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laboratory anb pulpit 



THE RELATION OF BIOLOGY TO THE 
PREACHER AND HIS MESSAGE 



Gbe (5a? lecture^ 1900 



BY 



WILLIAM L. POTEAT, M. A. 

Trofessor of 'Biology in Wake Forest College 



PHILADELPHIA 

XZbe ©rtffitb & IRowlanfc press 

igoi 



THE LIBRARY OF 

CONGRESS, 
Two Copies Received 

APR, 19 1901 

Copyright entry 

CLASS Ci* XXc N». 

COPY B. 



' T 7 



Copyright 1901 by the 
American Baptist Publication Society 



jfrom tbe Society's own ipress 



®u Pte Wxt* 



NOTE 



The Gay Lectureship was established in the Southern 
Baptist Theological Seminary, at Louisville, Ky. , in the year 
1893, by Rev. William D. Gay, of Montgomery, Ala., as 
a memorial of his father, Mr. Julius Brown Gay. Three 
lectures each year are provided for. The founder does not 
specify the general subject of the lectureship. The Fac- 
ulty of the Seminary name the lecturer and the subject. 

The three lectures following were given in Norton Hall, 
Louisville, March 20, 22, and 23, 1900. They are printed 
here as they were delivered, except that a few notes are 
added, and the paragraph near the close of the last lecture 
and beginning "If it be objected," was in the delivery 
omitted on account of the pressure of time. 

I gratefully acknowledge serviceable suggestions made to 
me by my friends and colleagues, President C. E. Taylor 
and Professor Benjamin Sledd. 

W. L. P. 



LECTURE PAGE 

Introductory 9 

I. The Biological Revolution 17 

II. The New Appeal 41 

III. The Unknown Tongue 71 



INTRODUCTORY 



You' ve seen the world — 
The beauty and the wonder and the power, 
The shapes of things, their colors, lights, and shades, 
Changes, surprises — and God made it all ! 

— Browning, " Fra Lippo Lippi." 



Mr. President and Gentlemen: — Give me 
leave to say a word or two of general introduction. 

The first must be an allusion to my pleasure 
in greeting you here and my appreciation of the 
opportunity to confer with you about things of 
importance to our Christian faith and work. 

You have called me from the biological labora- 
tory to the seminary pulpit. For a number of 
years — I dare not say how many — I have occupied 
myself with that particular science which is chiefly 
responsible for the new expression on the coun- 
tenance of our intellectual life ; and now I find 
myself for the time in the most influential of pul- 
pits — for it j^Jhe_jr^adier^oXjOjin ^rrow wh o^fill^ 
the pews before me. What is most revolutionary 
in science stands face to face with what is most 
precious in religion. I adopt the suggestion of 
the occasion, and propose as the general subject 
of these lectures " Laboratory and Pulpit," or the 
Relation of Biology to the Preacher and his Mes- 
sage. 

I need hardly remind you that this is no light 
matter. It is a matter of foundations. These 
are some of the questions which it raises : Is the 
universe intelligible ? Are human reason and con- 



12 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

sciousness reliable ? or is the natural order a 
cunningly devised scheme of illusions for our sys- 
tematic deception ? Are the intuitions of the 
human spirit trustworthy ? If so, are the God 
whom the intellect finds in nature and the God 
whom the heart finds in its own longings two Gods 
at war with each other, or one ? The vague sense 
of tension and misgiving which still pesters many 
devout minds whenever science intrudes upon re- 
ligious reflection, drops here its ghost habit of 
momentary apparition ; it takes body before us 
and insists upon definite examination. The covert 
or open detraction of science and men of science 
by some who hold the public ear and speak in the 
name of Christianity, presents itself in our subject, 
and asks to be justified. In the presence of so 
grave concerns we must use our best endeavors to 
see clearly, to think straight, and to hold by the 
truth at all hazards. You will allow me, I know, 
to be frank and faithful to the truth as I appre- 
hend it. Any other attitude would be nothing 
short of impiety. 

I feel acutely the gravity of the task which I 
have undertaken, especially in view of the fact 
that we are in a period of transition, more dis- 
tinctly so, perhaps, in our conservative South than 
in some other quarters ; and it is of this transition 
that I purpose to speak. Now, all transitions are 



INTRODUCTORY 1 3 

perilous. One morning, on our Atlantic coast, I 
was watching a crabber assort his catch for the 
hotel steward. He handed me a crab, saying, 
" That's a buster," by which he meant a crab in 
the act of bursting his old shell with a view to 
drawing himself out of it and growing a new and 
larger one. The fisherman added, " Many of 'em 
dies before they git through." It is so in the 
human world. Our old habits, of body, mind, spirit, 
are at once our comfort and our safety. To break 
their protecting shell for a new one is not only 
painful, it exposes us the while to thronging 
perils. And yet the repeated passage from a 
limited to a larger life is one of the conditions of 
life itself. We must grow to live. In such a 
period, when "the old order changeth, yielding 
place to new," it is easy to misplace the emphasis, 
to appear radical and offend against the worthy 
sentiment which yet clings to the old, and on the 
other hand to appear weak, if not cowardly, to a mind 
which has already made the transition successfully. 
Moreover, in the effort to facilitate the inevitable 
transition, it is possible that one may, in some 
cases, simply cause the old exo-skeleton to pinch ; 
one may infuse a disintegrating doubt through the 
body of long-cherished opinions, without being 
able to impart the impulse and principle of a new 
and vitalizing reorganization. 



14 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

There is yet another danger lying in wait for 
the unguarded enthusiasm of such a time as this 
of lengthening vistas and lifting skies. I mean the 
danger of the dogmatic accent. With all our theo- 
logical logomachies for many bitter centuries, with 
all our conquering science, we look out to-day 
from our little sphere of light upon unanswering 
mystery in every direction. A sober speech and 
the garment of humility become us. A more 
ignorant age might be dogmatic ; not so this. 

You will, of course, understand that I speak as 
a student of science, not as a theologian ; and you 
will, perhaps, allow me in that r61e a point of view 
and a terminology that are scientific rather than 
theological. And if in this discussion I "line up" 
with the progressives, I shall be only extending to 
a detail of our life the law of progress which I 
find writ large on the face of universal nature. Do 
me the favor to interpret individual expressions of 
opinion in the light of the general discussion only. 
While I dare not look for the unanimous acceptance 
of the message which I bring you, I do venture to 
hope that it may be serviceable even in the cases 
of its rejection ; for, as Professor Sanday reminds 
us, all sound and permanent progress is the re- 
sultant in public opinion of the action of both sides 
in controversy. In any case, when I have done, 
you will be able to say to me what a Turkish cadi 



INTRODUCTORY I 5 

said to an inquisitive English traveler : " Oh, my 
lamb ! seek not after the things that concern thee 
not. Thou earnest unto us, and we welcomed thee : 
go in peace. Of a truth thou hast spoken many 
words, and there is no harm done, for the speaker 
is one, and the listener is another." 



LECTURE I 
THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 



Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth : and the 
former things shall not be remembered, nor come into 
mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I 
create. 

— Isaiah, 6j 7 17, 18. 

And he that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make 
all things new. And he saith, Write ; for these words are 
faithful and true. And he said unto me, They are come 
to pass. 

—John, Revelation 21 : J, b. 

The sun-awakened avalanche ! Whose mass, 
Thrice sifted by the storm, had gathered there 
Flake after flake, . . 

As thought by thought is piled, till some great truth 
Is loosened, and the nations echo round, 
Shaken to their roots, as do the mountains now. 

— Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound." 



An interesting passage in the " Conversations 
of Goethe" occurs under date of August 2, 1830, 
the day on which news of the July Revolution in 
Paris — " the glorious days of July" — first reached 
Weimar. In the afternoon Soret visited the aged 
poet and man of science, and found him intensely 
excited. Goethe exclaimed as he entered, " What 
do you think of this great event ? The volcano 
has come to an eruption ; everything is in flames ! " 
Soret confessed that it was a frightful story, but 
suggested that nothing better was to be expected 
under so bad an administration. " You do not 
understand me," said Goethe. "I am not speak- 
ing of those people. I am speaking of the con- 
test, so important to science, between Cuvier and 
St. Hilaire, which has come to an open rupture 
in the Academy" — a contest which we know gained 
for Goethe's evolutionary conception of organic 
nature a powerful and permanent ally. 

We may grant that Goethe had at this period 
but a languid interest in European politics, and 
was not likely to rate at its proper value the 
triumph of constitutional liberty in France ; but 

19 



20 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

this is no detraction from his high estimate of the 
contemporary revolution which was working its 
way to success in the halls of French science. 
After all, was he not right in placing the emphasis 
here ? Is it not precisely the revolution in the 
laboratory or the study which produces the revo- 
lution in the street ? " The Biological Revolu- 
tion " which I hope to sketch now is such a revo- 
lution in mental attitude and outlook — the same, 
indeed, which, so early as 1830, Goethe saw 
crowding to its inevitable consummation. 

As we take up this single thread of inquiry, we 
need to remind ourselves that the physical sciences 
are one and indivisible. For satisfactory reasons 
we mark them off from one another as physics, 
chemistry, and biology, and sub-divide each of 
these to what I fear is sometimes a dangerous ex- 
treme. But their boundaries touch, indeed shade 
into each other ; they are interdependent and or- 
ganically united. Their ultimate aim and the 
methods by which they seek it are everywhere the 
same. I beg you, therefore, to bear in mind that, 
while I speak of biology only, its own progress and 
its distinctive achievements, whether in the in- 
crease or the recasting of our intellectual posses- 
sions, would not have been possible without the 
simultaneous advance and the co-operation of its 
worthy confederates. 



THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 21 

I. THE DEVELOPMENT OF BIOLOGY. 

The year i860 may be regarded as the birth- 
date of biology in the modern sense of that science. 
It is true that even from the time of the wise king 
of Israel living things had been observed in more 
or less of the scientific spirit. From Aristotle 
onward, treatises still extant made their appearance 
with increasing frequency and fullness of biological 
material and a diminishing modicum of myth, 
down to the middle of the present century. This 
work was important and, for the most part, credit- 
able to the workers. But its importance was 
mainly that of bringing together the materials of 
the coming structure, of preparing the way for 
the noble science which would relate and systema- 
tize this collection of facts. 

The year 1838 is a memorable one in biological 
annals, for a stage was then reached which con- 
ditioned all subsequent development. The Ger- 
man botanist Schleiden reached in that year the 
generalization that the structure of plants is made 
up of minute individual portions, which he called 
" cells " ; and, further, that the observed diversities 
of these cells are but the typical forms progress- 
ively modified during the growth of the plant. 
One day at dinner, while he was talking on this 
subject with his friend Schwann, the physiologist, 



22 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

the latter seemed to recall a trace of the same ar- 
chitecture in certain animal structures. Schwann 
went away to test the suggestion, and from his voy- 
age of discovery he returned the next year with 
spoils which extended to the world of animals the 
cell structure demonstrated in the world of plants. 

Brilliant as was this achievement of the cell 
theory, its joint-founders paid little attention to 
what we now know to be the essential part of their 
"little vesicles," or boxes, namely, their fluid con- 
tents ; they mistook the mode of cell formation, 
and failed to perceive the nature and powers of 
the cell substance. But these matters were taken 
up by other men, and constitute even to-day the 
most fascinating field of biological research. In 
1846 Von Mohl, observing the uniform character 
of the cell substance, deemed it worthy of a specific 
name, and said, It shall be called "protoplasm." 
About four years later, Remak and Cohn declared 
that this protoplasm of the plant cell was identical 
with the substance of the animal cell, to which the 
name " sarcode " had been applied. But the dis- 
tinction of demonstrating in detail this identity 
was reserved for Max Schultze, in i860. 1 

At the same time with this study of the minute 
structure of living beings, but quite independently 

1 See O. Hertwig's "The Cell," Introduction, and Sachs' 
" History of Botany, " Chap. IV., for historical details. 



THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 23 

of it, another line of inquiry was pressing forward 
to the establishment of another epoch-making 
doctrine. I refer, of course, to the doctrine of 
evolution. This inquiry had slight need of the 
microscope. It concerned itself merely with the 
gross anatomy, relationships, and distribution of 
animals and plants. The field, not the laboratory, 
was its theatre. Its beginnings lie far back in 
the pre-Christian centuries. It takes its rise, in- 
deed, contemporaneously with the first efforts of 
the Greek physicists, in the sixth century before 
Christ, to substitute a natural for the mythological 
explanation of things. Inasmuch as during the 
Middle Ages the church was the guardian of all 
learning, we should expect to trace the continua- 
tion of this conception through the Christian 
theologians ; and, accordingly, Gregory of Nyssa 
in the fourth century, Augustine, the father of the 
Latin theology, in the fifth, Thomas Aquinas in 
the thirteenth, and Bruno in the sixteenth, stand 
forth in the honorable succession of the Greek 
philosophers as custodians of the evolution idea. 
From this point allusions multiply and expand into 
discussions, and some of the philosophers, as 
Leibnitz (1646-1716), pass from noting the gra- 
dations between animal species to apply the evo- 
lution principle to the sum of things. 1 But the 

1 Cf. Osborn's "From the Greeks to Darwin," p. 69-83. 



24 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

most important name from Aristotle to Darwin is 
Lamarck, whose " Philosophie Zoologique," pub- 
lished in 1809, is the first elaborate exposition of 
the means, or factors, of evolution as applied to 
the origin of living forms. Twenty years later he 
died in extreme poverty and total blindness, bear- 
ing the heavier burden of social and scientific ostra- 
cism on account of his transmutation theory. Let 
us hope that he found solace in anticipating the 
verdict of the centuries against the years. Cer- 
tainly he is now come into his reward, for a school 
of biologists, with no less a figure than Herbert 
Spencer at their head, is to-day called by his 
name. 1 

Lamarck proffered the gage in such terms as 
enforced its acceptance, and from his time natural- 
ists were divided on the question whether the 
higher organisms were derived by descent, with 
modification, from the lower. There were warm 
debates among them, as that in the French Acad- 
emy which stirred Goethe so deeply, — debates 
which continued with varying fortunes down to 

1 In his address to the French Association for the Advancement 
of Science, in 1889, President Duthiers said: "Our illustrious 
compatriot has been treated rather unjustly and severely. There 
are whole pages in the works of Lamarck containing the theory 
of transformation completely developed, to which Darwin has 
added nothing except to confirm them." See " Popular Science 
Monthly," 36 ; 23, 24. 



THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 2 5 

the publication of the " Origin of Species " by 
Charles Darwin, in 1859. That splendid product 
of a great mind brooding for years on an enormous 
mass of facts, practically closed the question and 
won at once the almost unanimous assent of the 
naturalists of the world. 

These two generalizations — the protoplasm the- 
ory, comprehending in one view all animal and 
plant structures, and the evolution theory, unify- 
ing them in the mode of their origin — constitute 
the foundation of modern biology. They grew 
apart, but came to full age at practically the same 
time, and together made an epoch. 1 

It appears accordingly, that biology is one of the 
youngest in the sisterhood of the sciences. The 
extreme complexity of its subject-matter delayed 
its development. It had to wait, moreover, upon 
the improvement of its great instrument, the mi- 
croscope, and of microscopical technique. But 
when it did present itself at last, with wide eyes 
and the mien of organized victory, it compensated 
for the lateness of its coming by the stir which it 
made. It precipitated a revolution which is hardly 
yet composed in the new equilibrium. 

But before we undertake to catch some echoes 
of this revolution, we shall do well to observe more 

1 C^. Wilson's "The Cell in Development and Inheritance," 
Introduction. 



26 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

particularly the content and scope of biology. 
The rehearsal of matters familiar to many of you 
may perhaps be justified by the point of view which 
we gain by it. 

II. THE CONTENT AND SCOPE OF BIOLOGY. 

I. The Cell. — Biology is the science of the phe- 
nomena of life. Of course, life phenomena are ex- 
hibited in both plants and animals, which alike sup- 
ply material to the biologist's hand. Whether his 
specimen fall in the plant or animal series is often 
a secondary question and need not be raised. 
Further, he may select it indifferently from this 
or that group of either series. In short, he is pri- 
marily concerned with living matter, — protoplasm, 
— that " physical basis" apart from which, in the 
present order, the phenomena of life never emerge. 
And, since protoplasm always occurs in individual 
masses for which the name " cell " is still retained, 
the biologist may be said to occupy himself first and 
last with the cell. Now, with very few exceptions, 
cells are too small to be seen with the naked eye. 
Many of them require the higher powers of the 
microscope to bring them within the range of 
vision. " Poor biologist ! " you will say. " What 
limitation of horizon! what contraction of inter- 
ests ! " Excuse me if I say that this sympathy 
is more creditable to your generosity than ap- 



THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 2J 

propriate to his need. The thought of Tennyson 
is truer. In the familiar lines to the little flower 
which he held in his hand he says : 

If I could understand 
What you are, root and all, and all in all, 
I should know what God and man is. 

The biologist concentrates still further. Fixing 
attention upon any one of the myriad cells which 
compose the structure and do the work of the lit- 
tle plant of the crannies, even of that tiny world 
he might use the language of the poet. For the 
cell is the miniature of nature. It is the focus 
where all her forces meet to do her finest work. 
And if ever we come upon that elusive wizard, Life, 
he will be found hiding amid the intricacies of 
this microscopic bit of protoplasm. Life is Nature's 
goal and crown. Her struggle upward out of war 
and night, her wistful brooding for ages on the 
insensate elements, all her storm and travail find 
their reward when life first rises to view. It is 
lodged in the veriest atomy of a cell. It is frail 
and poorly equipped. But she takes the nursling 
to her bosom, warms and guards it, feeds it with 
opportunity, establishes and diversifies it with strug- 
gle, until alga and moss and rose, infusorian and 
insect and bird and man respond to her mother- 
yearning from every nook of her wide domain. 



28 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

Though so exquisite in the complexity of its 
architecture, though so refined in its substance, 
the cell cannot break with its past. I own, its 
" dust " lineage is ineffaceably written in the sym- 
bols of its chemical composition. It is ordinary 
matter in the living state for the time. On the 
other hand, it has an upward look toward that 
which, in the rude classifications of our ignorance, 
we call the antithesis of matter — mind. It runs 
a track closely parallel to that of consciousness, 
within speaking distance and the range of recipro- 
cal influence. The cell supplies the labyrinthine 
pathways over which thought flashes, and is sen- 
sitive to its most ethereal and transient contact. 

It must be apparent that the biologist stands at 
the heart of things. The sciences which deal with 
the forces and properties of lifeless nature run 
rapidly up to their highest elaboration in the 
science of living nature. All the other sciences, 
not excepting even the purely formal and abstract 
science of mathematics, owe their development, if 
not, indeed, their subjective foundations, to the 
marvelous capacities of protoplasm. The problems 
of philosophy, the mother of sciences, are at bot- 
tom biological problems, for its quest is nothing 
more than the explanation of the phenomena of 
life. 

2. Evolution. — But the second conception men- 



THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 29 

tioned as fundamental in the content of modern 
biology is even more widely connected than the 
protoplasm conception. Indeed, there is no single 
object or phenomenon which is independent of the 
process of evolution. That process is not rightly 
conceived as an agent ; it is only the method of 
God's operation. It is the method of becoming. 
The present is the child of the past, whether we 
think of the individual organism, the tribe, the race, 
the earth on which it lives, or the sun which ener- 
gizes all. History is not a succession of events or 
stages, as of links in a chain, having no other re- 
lation than that of contact. The antecedent events 
or stages are, in part at least, the causes of those 
which follow. The endless variety of plant forms 
which brighten and beautify our world has arisen 
by descent, with modification, from more and more 
simple forms through long ages. The same law 
of gradual growth is established in the realm of 
mind also. As we go upward along the scale of 
organized life, the nervous system acquires increas- 
ing complexity, and distinctively mental traits 
emerge into greater and greater prominence, until 
we arrive at the highest term of this wonderful 
series, the mind of Plato or of Shakespeare. Take 
another step and see the same law obeyed in the 
multiform activities in which the human mind ex- 
presses itself. Thomas Hobbes said that the 



30 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

great " Leviathan," the Commonwealth or State, 
was but an artificial man constructed by human 
skill. We now know that individual men could no 
more construct a State than they could originate 
themselves. " Constitutions are not made ; they 
grow." Throughout all its ramifications, in its 
main outlines and its minutest details, society is a 
growth, not a manufacture. And that highest 
function of mind — its response to the call of the 
universal Spirit who guides this progress and sup- 
plies the energy of this upward tendency to a fore- 
seen goal — religion itself has developed out of rude 
and germinal beginnings. 

Out of darkness came the hands 

That reach thro' nature moulding men. 

And the love which moved those hands spoke to 
man's growing capacity as soon as it could hear, 
and in the syllables and tones which it could appre- 
hend. The revelation of God has been of necessity 
progressive as being conditioned by the stage of 
culture which received it. You may now read the evo- 
lution of religion in Brinton, Andrew Lang, Max 
Mtiller, and Edward Caird. And it seems more 
than hinted at in those great chapters, the first of 
Romans and the first of John. 

I do not hesitate to say that the blessing of this 
new view is beyond appraisement. The new 



THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 3 I 

heavens of Isaiah already draw out of the deep to 
roof us in ; we open our eyes on the new earth. 
Nature is conceived of no longer as static, but as 
dynamic and vital, — stands transfigured before us 
with the radiance of God's manifest presence. 
The intellectual satisfaction of finding unity and 
harmony in the place of the most distressing con- 
fusion is a superlative advantage. We have here 
important light on " this dread machinery of sin 
and sorrow," the problem of evil, which has clouded 
our sky, dragged heavily upon our aspirings, and 
often mocked into inactivity our best endeavors 
with prophecies of defeat. Besides, in hearts that 
are crushed under the meaninglessness of life, a 
great hope is born of the vision of a goal which 
explains and justifies the long and painful path 
behind us, as well as the perplexities and antag- 
onisms of the present hour. Nature's " eternal 
enterprise " becomes one with our own ideals. 

But our debt to biological evolution is not all 
told in this catalogue of blessings. It has been a 
guide and stimulus to research in all departments 
of inquiry. Prof. Huxley was altogether right 
in saying that the most potent instrument for the 
extension of the realm of natural knowledge which 
has come into men's hands since the publication 
of Newton's "Principia," is Darwin's "Origin of 
Species." Even in the sciences of inorganic na- 



32 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

ture, indeed in spheres not distinctively scientific, 
the influence of the biological method has spread 
as a veritable " elixir of life," and philosophy, law, 
history, art, language, and literature have been 
born again in the impact of the evolution idea. 

III. REVISION. 

It is not surprising, therefore, it was indeed in- 
evitable, that this young life science, with its uni- 
versal relations and its ramifications down to the 
roots of things, should impose the necessity of 
revision upon every formulated body of doctrine, 
whether physical or metaphysical, observational 
or intuitional. Here is the source of the tremen- 
dous energy which, in the last forty years, has 
burst in upon every branch of knowledge with the 
thrill of new vitality. Please consider some ex- 
amples. 

i. Psychology. — The new psychology is differ- 
entiated from the old, not so much by the ex- 
tension of knowledge in the realm of mind, though 
this has been great, as by the reorganization of 
this knowledge from the view-point of the two 
basal doctrines of biology, — the doctrine of the cell 
and the doctrine of evolution. Accordingly, the 
psychology text-book of to-day begins with the 
structure, physiology, and growth of the human 
nervous system, with a glance backward and down- 



THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 33 

ward at the corresponding mechanism in the lower 
ranges of life. Whatever may be one's conception 
of the relation of the thought process to the nerve 
process, it is certain that, in the present order, a 
change in the one records itself in the other ; a 
brain lesion advertises itself in a mental defect. 
The cell, with its tree-like branchings and inter- 
lacing contacts, is the apparatus of the magician. 
If it is weak, the magician is weak. If its con- 
nections are scant and uncertain, the magician 
stammers ; if they fail, he is mute. So controlling 
has this physiological view and method become, 
that it has recently seemed to be necessary to as- 
sert with special insistence the relevancy and im- 
portance of the data given in consciousness and 
the legitimacy of the method of introspection. 

2. Sociology. — It is but a step from psychology 
to sociology. Indeed, sociology is applied psy- 
chology in its social aspects. It is true that 
glimpses of the dependence of sociology upon 
biology were caught by Hooker in the seventeenth 
century, and more clearly by Comte about the 
middle of the present century ; but it was reserved 
for the author of the " Synthetic Philosophy " to 
write, in 1873, a detailed exposition of the truths 
contributed by biology for the science of sociology. 1 

But the question has been raised whether we 

1 Spencer's "Study of Sociology," Chap. XIV. 
C 



34 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

are warranted in speaking of the " science of 
sociology"; is the sociology of to-day an exact 
science ? In any case, it is certain that the new 
sociology is organizing itself more and more com- 
pletely upon the basis of the biological sciences, 
and so growing more and more distinct from the 
sociology of the early part of the century, which 
made its appeal to the mathematico-physical group 
of the sciences. It is coming to be generally and 
practically recognized that, in the study of human 
society, we are merely dealing with the highest 
phenomena presented in the history of life. A 
representative of the new school studies in Lon- 
don colonies of bees and ants as a part of his prepa- 
ration for his work on " Social Evolution." The 
biologist is pressing over the artificial boundary 
set by an earlier day to his proper territory ; he is 
carrying his principles and methods into the 
social sciences, whose subject-matter is still life 
phenomena, only life in its most complex manifes- 
tation. As Spencer says, the human being is at 
once the terminal problem of biology and the ini- 
tial factor of sociology. 

The factors here are numerous and difficult to 
measure. The facts have not all been noted ; 
they certainly have not been duly co-ordinated. 
And yet some things seem already clear. It may 
be worth while to mention two or three of them. 



THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 35 

The first, which relates to our ignorance, is, that 
social questions cannot be determined by majori- 
ties, any more than physical or chemical questions. 
Was it Matthew Arnold who said that, in such 
matters, the minority is always right ? A second 
deduction from the biological conception of soci- 
ology is, that the cry of the socialist, whether 
Christian or scientific, for the suppression of the 
individual and the elimination of competition, or 
the struggle for existence, as a factor in social de- 
velopment, is against nature and, therefore, doomed 
to failure. Again, religious beliefs are, in the new 
sociology, given the place of paramount importance 
in the origin and evolution of all social aggregates 
of whatever grade of organization. In the case 
of that complex product, Western civilization, 
Christianity is certainly its distinctive mark and 
explanation. Under its influence the individual 
has acquired personality and gradually come into 
his estate of equality of right and of opportunity ; 
the conditions of the life struggle have been sof- 
tened without impairment of its action for social 
efficiency ; and it seems not unscientific to hope 
that the same agency, co-operating with other 
social factors, will resolve the problems that per- 
plex us now, correct the unnatural inequalities, 
and relieve the distresses of our present social 
state. Our hope is in the organic spread of the 



36 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

spirit and teaching of Jesus, not in an act of Con- 
gress. 1 

3. Literature. — If there were time, it would be 
easy to trace in detail the marks of the biological 
revolution upon the higher forms of the literature of 
our century. There was at first — I use the thought 
order where of course the time order cannot be 
followed — a positive revulsion at " the demonstra- 
ble fact " of science, which seemed to Keats and 
Ruskin, for example, to break imagination's wings, 
and to destroy the beauty of the world by dissect- 
ing it. Then came pessimism at sight of " Nature 
red in tooth and claw with ravine," and the deep 
tragedy of life palpitating in the grasp of inexora- 
ble law. It often shadows the brow of Tennyson, 
and is the characteristic note of Matthew Arnold 
and of " the scornful yet terrified" author of " Man- 
fred " and " Don Juan." The complete surrender 
to the scientific impression is seen in the natural- 
ism of Zola and Thomas Hardy, who frankly ac- 
cept and utilize the new knowledge, making it into 
the bricks and mud of the once regnant but now 
decadent realism. Then follows the transfigura- 
tion of nature, as in Richard Jefferies, George 
Macdonald, and Watts-Dunton. The final stage 
of adjustment and response is reached when genius 

1 Cf. Benjamin Kidd's "Social Evolution," Chap. IV. and V., 
and H. S. Nash's "Genesis of the Social Conscience, " passim. 



THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 37 

awakes to the new material and method which 
science lays at its feet, and is kindled into tri- 
umphant faith and optimism by the wide vision of 
evolution. That is precisely the distinction of 
Robert Browning. It is interesting to observe 
that this issue was divined by Wordsworth's in- 
fallible insight at the beginning of the century. 
In the Preface of the "Lyrical Ballads" (1800) 
he wrote : " Poetry is the breath and finer spirit 
of all knowledge ; it is the impassioned expres- 
sion which is in the countenance of all science. 
... If the labors of men of science should ever 
create any material revolution, direct or indirect, 
in our condition and in the impressions which we 
habitually receive, the poet will sleep then no more 
than at present ; he will be ready to follow the steps 
of the man of science, . . carrying sensation into 
the midst of the objects of the science itself." 

4. Ethics} — Every stage in the historical de- 
velopment of ethical inquiry, from its origin with 
the Greek Sophists down to to-day, is marked by the 
effort to formulate a rational system of morals in 
harmony with the general body of current opinion 
and sentiment. The marvelous extension of natu- 

1 This section is mainly an abstract of the author's paper on 
"The Physiological Basis of Morality," given before the Baptist 
Congress, at Providence, R. I., in 1895, an< i published in its Pro- 
ceedings. 



38 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

ral knowledge which characterizes the latter half 
of our century enforced a fresh examination of the 
foundations of morality from the new standpoint. 
The first serious treatment of the origin of the 
moral nature in accordance with the new knowl- 
edge, appears to have been made by Mr. Darwin in 
"The Descent of Man," published in 187 1. It is 
well known that he derived the moral nature, as 
well as the body, of man from the lower animals. 
He traces it to the social instincts of savages and 
gregarious animals, which become progressively 
more assured of survival in proportion to the per- 
fection of these instincts of obedience, co-opera- 
tion, and sympathy. This suggestion was adopted 
and elaborated into the system of the " Scientific 
Ethics," by Prof. Clifford, Mr. Herbert Spencer, 
Mr. Leslie Stephen, and later by Mr. Sutherland. 
Its value consists in its having sketched the history, 
not of morality, but of the physiological basis of 
morality. It traces the development of the appa- 
ratus of the moral nature. It exhibits the external 
aspect of moral progress. The weakness of this 
physical theory lies in its claim to be a complete 
account of the moral nature itself. For moral 
ideas, while correlated with material changes, are 
totally distinct from them. 

What may be called the Neo-Christian theory 
corrects and supplements the physical. It is a re- 



THE BIOLOGICAL REVOLUTION 39 

statement of the Christian conception from the 
view-point of evolution. Let us understand at once 
that an intellectual account of the moral nature 
cannot impair or imperil the binding force of its 
decrees in the practical guidance of life. The ques- 
tion how or where we came by it neither modifies 
its character, nor invalidates our actual possession 
of it. For the Neo-Christian theory, therefore, 
conscience is still conscience, though it is the re- 
sult of the process of development ; for the mod- 
ern man, at least, it is still innate and intuitive, 
and speaks with the authority of the voice of 
God. Nor does the content of the Christian mo- 
rality suffer at the hands of the new moralists. 
They accept the derivation of man's body from the 
lower organic series. They discover protoplasm 
about the root of the moral nature itself, but deny 
that the moral nature is, on that account, proto- 
plasmic. They hold that sensation elaborated in 
the progress of development, and ancestral expe- 
rience organized into intuitions, are merely the 
vehicle of the moral nature, which on its part is 
able to take on higher forms as its apparatus be- 
comes more adequate. If life depends upon the 
correspondence between the organism and its envi- 
ronment, certainly the successive additions in a 
developing life are not the unfoldings of what lay 
diminutive and dormant in the germ, but are sup- 



40 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

plied to it by the environment. Now, God is the 
proper environment of the growing ethical nature. 
His hand is on the organic process, and as with 
his energy and nourishing it rises into higher 
planes, he can put into it more and more of moral 
and spiritual significance until it reaches a point 
where it is altogether meaningless apart from the 
nobler nature which he has grafted upon it. And 
so we conclude with Paul, " First, that which is 
natural ; then, that which is spiritual." 



LECTURE II 
THE NEW APPEAL 



I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot 
bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is 
come, he shall guide you into all the truth : for he shall 
not speak from himself ; but what things soever he shall 
hear, these shall he speak. . . He shall glorify me : for he 
shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you. All things 
whatsoever the Father hath are mine : therefore said I, that 
he taketh of mine, and shall declare it unto you. 

—Jesus, John fb : 12-1$' 

There are two books from whence I collect my divinity. 
Besides that written one of God, another of his servant na- 
ture, that universal and publick manuscript, that lies ex- 
pansed unto the eyes of all. Those that never saw him in 
the one have discovered him in the other. 

— Sir Thomas Browne, " Religio Medici." 

Second Speaker, as Renan. 

Dwindling into the distance, dies that star 

Which came, stood, opened once ! We gazed our fill 

With upturned faces on as real a Face 

That, stooping from grave music and mild fire, 

Took in our homage. 

. . . Awhile transpired 
Some vestige of a Face no pangs convulse, 
No prayers retard .; then even this was gone, 
Lost in the night at last. 

Third Speaker. 

That one Face, far from vanish, rather grows, 

Or decomposes but to recompose, 

Become my universe that feels and knows ! 

— Browning, Epilogue to " Dramatis Persona." 



II 

If in the first lecture theology was not men- 
tioned among the examples of revision in accord- 
ance with the data of biology, it was only because 
I deemed it worthy of more detailed consideration 
in view of your direct concern with it, and because 
I preferred to make no breach in the natural group 
of subjects which constitute the preacher's special 
province. In this lecture accordingly, these sub- 
jects are to go together through the laboratory on 
their way to the pulpit, while we note the new 
complexion and accent which they acquire and the 
new appeal which they then make to the new time. 

Let us at once assure ourselves of two things : 
first, that these matters, by their very nature in- 
vite such an examination as we propose; second, 
that whatever its issue may be, what is vital in the 
Christian experience will remain unaffected by it. 
For you will observe that theology is one thing 
and religion quite another. While they are habitu- 
ally associated and often, with the most disastrous 
consequences, have been identified in thought, in 
actual reality either one may be present in high 
development in the absence of the other. In es- 

43 



44 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

sential characteristic, religion is sentiment ; the- 
ology, idea. Religion is emotion ; theology, reason. 
Religion is the response of the heart ; theology, 
the logic of the head. Religion is the inward ex- 
perience of God ; theology, the intellectual account 
of it. 1 This sentiment of relation to God is, one 
might say, organic and vital, and as such is wholly 
independent of theological speculation about it. 
I recently asked a student in physiology by what 
two paths the digested food reached the general 
circulation. He replied in a double-and-twisted 
confusion of errors. But I feel sure that the 
young man's vital process of absorption into the 
capillaries and the lymphatics was not in any way 
embarrassed by his blunder in conceiving of it. 
Indeed, the peach in his cheek and the ashes in 
my own conspired in the hint that the process and 
the knowledge of the process were in no sense 
related. 

Of course, what I have said of religion in gen- 
eral applies to the religion of Jesus in particular. 
We have learned that the Christian faith is not a 
doctrine or a system of doctrines, but a personal 
attachment. Such intellectual propositions as are 
associated with it are the contribution of reflection 

1 There is of course a cognitive element in emotion itself, and 
the religious sentiment — as all other sentiments — rests on a cog- 
nitive basis, but is not characterized by it. 



THE NEW APPEAL 45 

upon that faith. The body of Christian beliefs, 
therefore, elaborated as it has been by the rational 
faculty, offers itself for rational review, and at 
every stage in the intellectual advance of the race 
requires the fresh authentication of fitting itself 
into the spirit and thought of the time. The 
sense of personal attachment to Jesus, on the other 
hand, is subject to no variations of culture-grade, 
time, or place. It is the same in the child and 
the philosopher ; in Simon Peter and Tolstoy ; in 
Europe and Cathay. 

I have lingered upon this distinction in the hope 
that it might help us to observe, without prejudice 
and without dismay, the reconstruction of "the 
queen of the sciences " under the guidance of one 
of the youngest subjects of the realm. 

I. THEOLOGICAL CONFUSION. 

Mr. Leslie Stephen has remarked that religions 
die by being found out. A suggested modifica- 
tion of the remark is truer : religious beliefs die by 
not being found at home. A glance at the history 
of religions certainly makes the impression that 
religious beliefs incline to be unprogressive. Some 
are consciously so and by authoritative enactment. 
In 1 840 Macaulay wrote : " Revealed religion is 
not a progressive science. . . A Christian of the 
fifth century with a Bible is on a par with a Chris- 



46 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

tian of the nineteenth century with a Bible." * 
Thirty years later the Vatican Council by a formal 
decree raised this idea into dogma, and pronounced 
its anathema against the man who should assert 
that any dogma once announced by the church 
could be modified according to the progress of sci- 
ence. Even when not so formally encased, relig- 
ious beliefs are yet shielded against invasion by 
their sacred reputation. Resting as they do for the 
great majority of men upon authority, they look 
backward from generation to generation, and tend 
to crystallize in rigid systems. Opinions in other 
spheres of life are not so predominantly traditional, 
but are, rather, personal acquisitions and take kindly 
to progressive modifications, as observation and ex- 
perience, upon which they are based, are enlarged 
in their range. It turns out that the stationary 
religious beliefs are left far behind in the general 
intellectual advance of the individual or the nation, 
suffer serious discredit when the discrepancy is first 
noted, and finally, when their incompatibility with 
the wider knowledge is perceived, are dropped al- 
together. Witness the obscuration and banishment 
of the Olympian hierarchy with the rise of Greek 

1 See the "Essay on the History of the Popes," where several 
pages are given to the discussion of the thesis that theology is an 
exception to the law of progress which obtains in all other de- 
partments of knowledge. 



THE NEW APPEAL 47 

culture. Witness the successive decline of Zoro- 
astrianism, Dualism, Magianism, in ancient Persia, 
as the nation passed successively under the sway of 
new external influences. See how divinity sinks into 
the sand out of sphinx, colossus, and statue, before 
the light of that marble structure which drew to 
Alexandria the scholars and scientists of the world. 
The gods and goddesses to whom the Romans of 
an earlier day appealed in personal or national 
distress became for the poets of the Augustan age 
the mere toys of the imagination. Asia Minor 
was the arena where man with the new spirit 
which he had got beyond the Hellespont, turning 
back, first met his brother of the East. The old 
Phrygian cultus which reflected the low social sta- 
tus of the time of its origin, disappeared before the 
higher standards of the Greek and Roman civiliza- 
tion, and consequently no region gave a readier 
welcome to Paul's well-timed message with its op- 
portunity for indefinite social development. 1 Let 
me add that the new Japan supplies us with a 
closely parallel case in the modern world. The 
importation of Western arts and industries, West- 
ern law, education, and science, involved of neces- 
sity the decay of the national theology which had 
grown up under far different conditions, and was 
in its very nature incapable of adjustment to the 

x Cf. Professor W. M. Ramsay, " Contemporary Review," 64 : 572. 



48 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

new regime. So that Japan is to-day in the ex- 
tremely interesting position of " a nation prospect- 
ing for a religion." 

Now let me ask whether anything analogous is 
discoverable in the case of Christian opinion. 
What is the distinctive mark of the Christian the- 
ology to-day ? One will answer, the resurgence of 
traditional conceptions ; another, the subjection of 
the Christian Scriptures to historical and textual 
criticism. A third will say, " No; theology is at 
present characterized by its appeal to Christ." 
" Progress," insists another; " reaction," another. 
Under these circumstances, perhaps I maybe al- 
lowed to say, that, to one on the outside, the babel 
of voices within is the characteristic feature of 
present-day theology. I do not insist, for it is 
only echoes that reach the laboratory ; and the 
confusion may be in the echoes only. But I ap- 
peal to you, gentlemen. As you have read Boyce 
and Clarke, Green and Wellhausen, Manly and 
Robert Horton, have you not felt the sense of un- 
certainty and uneasiness ? When anxious ques- 
tions about the deepest things in our nature and 
the' most precious things in life come back to you 
with answers so various and so contradictory, have 
you not felt a chill spread through your heart and 
threaten its pulsation ? Do you discover no hy- 
peresthesia in the theological nerve ? Is there 



THE NEW APPEAL 49 

no tension in the air ? Is there no hint of rupture 
and dissolution ? Did you ever hear of a heresy 
trial, in which no beauty of Christian spirit, no 
uprightness and power of Christian life, no ardor 
of allegiance to Christ, could atone for a lapse of 
opinion ? What is a heresy trial but the concrete 
and categorical assertion of the deepening cleavage 
which is sharply dividing theologians into pro- 
gressive and reactionary ? 

This confusion and dissonance is, I grant, dis- 
tressing in some aspects, but the alarm with which 
it is regarded by many is not warranted. It does 
show that the religious mind is embarrassed by the 
discovery of discord in the family of its ideas. It 
does give occasion to the dissipation of stores of 
Christian energy needed to lighten the world's 
woes, reminding us of the river Gyndes, which 
Cyrus punished by diverting its stream into small 
canals to deprive it of its power. But for all this 
human strife, the word of God standeth sure. As 
Professor Royce says, it is only an example of 
shallow thought when either the destructive or 
constructive thinkers imagine that the battle is 
decided, if the world of the powers is judged in 
one way or another. Religion, he adds, is as in- 
dependent of all that as Sirius is independent of 
the north wind. 1 It will help us if we remember 

1 Royce, "The Religious Aspect of Philosophy, " p. 290. 
D 



50 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

that it is not the spiritual reality itself that is in- 
volved in this contention, but only our own notions 
about it. 

Mr. Herbert Spencer has given us a useful 
formula for the progress of knowledge in all 
spheres. This progress, he says, shows three 
phases, — the unanimity of the ignorant, the dis- 
agreement of the inquiring, and the unanimity of 
the wise. Of course, absolute unanimity of in- 
formed opinion can never be realized among men 
except at the cost of personality and individuality, 
and that is far too heavy a price to pay for what 
would after all be at once a misfortune and a dis- 
grace. But, whatever the final stage may be, if 
there be one at all, and however long postponed, 
there can be little doubt that theological opinion 
is now in the second stage — the disagreement of 
the inquiring. And surely, in its broader aspect, 
that is hopeful, has light in it. It means, indeed, 
the disintegration of the established system into 
its elements ; and therein consist the pain and the 
peril of the time. But these elements have now 
as strong mutual affinities and as high combining 
powers as they had when they gathered themselves 
into that system from which they are just now re- 
leased. This breaking up of a system is not the 
destruction of its elements ; it is but the analysis 
which is the condition precedent of a new synthe- 



THE NEW APPEAL 5 I 

sis. Truth, like the chemical elements, is in- 
destructible, and once grasped is never lost. It 
may shift its place in the organized body of be- 
liefs ; it may be isolated for a time and bereaved 
of its companions ; it may be suppressed and ob- 
scured, if that body tumble in ruins about it. 
But as certain as its own immortality, is its reap- 
pearance some good day with fairer colors in a 
nobler structure. 

II. REORGANIZATION. 

The history of superseded religious opinions to 
which I have alluded, has been repeated in the 
case of Christianity, except at the precise point 
where its superiority emerges. They were all ap- 
propriate to the grade of culture and social progress 
in which they took their rise. The same is true 
of Christianity. But they developed no power of 
adaptation to a higher stage, and having no grip 
on the general movement, they were stranded 
when the tides of life flowed on to other levels. 
Here Christianity parts company with them. The 
chief glory of Christianity, said a devout and rich- 
minded German theologian, is its mutability, by 
which he meant its power of adaptation. This it 
is which brought it out of the narrow limits of its 
Semitic cradle into the wide range of the Greek 
philosophy and the Roman State. By virtue of 



52 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

this power it survived the shock of sixteenth and 
eighteenth century individualism, with its reversal 
of a thousand years of national and ecclesiastical 
history. It greets us to-day not merely unim- 
paired in its genius, but enriched in its content, 
for it has not stopped short with adjusting itself 
to new conditions as they have arisen in its path. 
It has appropriated the new conditions as its own 
proper climate, and incorporated and revised every 
historical body of teaching. As in its essence it 
meets every range of capacity, "providing for all the 
utmost they can take," so in its specific revelations 
and in its principles for the regulation of indi- 
vidual and associated conduct, Christianity antici- 
pates the universal human need : " there cannot 
be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircum- 
cision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman ; 
but Christ is all and in all." This note of uni- 
versality is the distinction of our religion, and an 
incontestible witness of its divinity. But let me 
not be misunderstood. Christianity is absolute, 
our apprehension of it is progressive. It does not 
change with the times ; it is we who change. But 
as we take new points of view or grow in capacity, 
it does not disappoint us, but rises to our higher 
demands by new unfoldings of its original riches, 
which we did not know because our eyes were 
holden. 



THE NEW APPEAL 53 

This divine power of expansive adaptation has 
met a fresh test in the case of modern biology. 
The current theology reached its crystallization 
stage before there was any science to infuse into 
the solution ; its generalization was made up before 
all the facts were in, " for," says a writer of great 
acuteness and authority, " the invisible things of 
God since the creation of the world are clearly 
seen, being perceived through the things that are 
made." If this noble utterance means anything, 
it means that the study of the visible creation is 
one way of knowing God ; that science bears im- 
portant messages from him. Of course, no gen- 
eralization can stand which does not take account 
of all the facts. Theology is now trying to make 
good this defect. The theological ferment and 
confusion of this end of the century is but the 
effort to restate the doctrine of God and man in 
conformity with the new knowledge. It was just 
as inevitable, and for the same reasons, as the re- 
construction of psychology or ethics in the biolog- 
ical revolution ; and I think we are ready now to 
admit that it was well. By and by another period 
of discussion and reorganization will follow with 
its surprises and its pains, but at its close our 
thought of God will be larger and truer as we 
think it in the wider horizons which the progress 
of natural knowledge stretches around us. It is 



54 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

irrevocably written in the constitution of things 
that the letter must yield to the informing spirit, 
that the fuller thought shall find a fresh and ade- 
quate expression. The expansion of life does in- 
volve tension and rupture of the rigid forms which, 
while ample for an earlier stage, now limit and re- 
press it. The period of transition is, indeed, pain- 
ful and perilous, but that is how we grow from 
more to more. Let us rejoice in our growing ap- 
prehension of God, and when he pours us out the 
new wine of life, fetch us new bottles to receive it. 
But you will ask me to specify at least the gen- 
eral features of the reorganization which is proceed- 
ing under our eyes, and indicate wherein the com- 
ing system will differ from the passing. The time 
allows me to speak of the central themes only, — 
our conception of God, of man, of the Bible, and 
of the spiritual world. On each of these themes 
two sources of knowledge are open to us, — the 
Christian revelation and the scientific revelation. 
And let me remind you that the Christian revela- 
tion itself anticipates and appeals to the scientific. 
For David testifies that the heavens declare the 
glory of God, day speaking it to day and one night 
to the next ; and Paul, who cannot quite suppress 
self-gratulation upon his exclusive revelations, yet 
declares that external nature clearly manifests the 
everlasting power and divinity of God. 



THE NEW APPEAL 55 

i. God. — The conception of God has been puri- 
fied and ennobled by the revelations of science. 
The existence of God being given, the testimony 
of science is three-fold : God is one, God is near, 
God is great. From their first encounter with the 
rational view of nature in ancient Greece, Zeus 
and his bright retinue withdrew, and consistently 
down to to-day science has found for them and 
their numerous relatives of other regions no place 
in that system of things which to its apprehension 
has grown to be more and more a universe. 

Science requires, moreover, that God reside 
within the natural order, supply to its ordinary 
processes both impulse and direction, and realize 
his own will in the uniform modes of its activities ; 
larger than nature, if you please, but inter-pene- 
trating it throughout, expressing his being and life 
in the forces that thrill through atom and star, in- 
fusorian and the mind of man, — nature his speech, 
law his thought, force the energy of his will. Ac- 
cording to this conception, God is no longer a rare 
visitor from inaccessible depths outside nature, 
whose laws he must violate or suspend in order to 
get in. He is neither dead nor silent. The opposite 
notion, which, of course, survives into the new time, 
is clearly stated in a book on "The Silence of God," 
published in 1897, and said to be popular among 
English evangelicals. Here is a sentence or two 



$6 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

from it : " God, who at sundry times . . . spake 
unto the fathers, never speaks to his people now." 
Referring to the Armenian massacres of 1895, the 
author says : " Has God no power to check such 
crimes ? . . . The far-off heaven where, in perfect 
and unutterable glory, God dwells and reigns, is 
silent. . . As for God, the light of the moon 
and stars is not more cold and pitiless than he ap- 
pears to be." A single line out of Paul's Athe- 
nian oration anticipates the biological conception 
and proscribes that book : " He is not far from each 
one of us." But did he speak ages ago his last 
word of tenderness and light to man ? Though 
the Infinite Father walk at our side, has he for our 
enlarging capacity and craving never a syllable 
more of answering revelation ? Ask your own 
heart. Through its halls and chambers do you not 
catch even now reverberations of his voice ? I 
fear he will not speak by you to this dull-eared gen- 
eration, unless he first speak to you. You may 
report mechanically the gracious word which he 
spoke to others long ago, and that is well. But 
that flame-tongue which finds men under every dis- 
guise of race, temperament, and condition, the 
thought that is contagious, the emotion that takes 
fire in other hearts and shapes them to all high 
issues — these are the tokens of a fresh, immediate, 
and personal communication. 



THE NEW APPEAL 57 

The scientific method of conceiving God has a 
third feature which I must dwell upon a moment. 
Goethe said that his first entrance into the city of 
Rome was to him a real new birth. And many a 
man has been born anew in the first discovery of 
this glorified universe as the work and word of God. 
Think of the universe of the monk Cosmas, of the 
sixth century, who was the geographical authority 
of the Middle Ages. In his " Christian Opinion 
Concerning the World," we are told that the earth 
is a flat parallelogram, to the outer edges of which 
the sky is glued and rises in four great walls which 
meet in a concave roof, and in the upper space the 
angels shove the heavenly bodies in their courses. 
Contrast the universe of the new astronomy, with 
its catalogue of above six hundred thousand stars, 
seven thousand of them packed in one cluster 
smaller than the moon's disk, all flashing through 
their prescribed pathways with precision and in- 
conceivable velocity, and yet showing the same 
composition and structure and the prevalence of 
the same laws which make our atom of the earth 
so orderly and beautiful. I tell you, the God of 
the universe of Cosmas is far below the God of 
the universe of Couch-Adams and Pickering. And 
the vast world of fact and suggestion brought to 
light by the microscope has even still more ele- 
vated our conception of the infinite resources of 



58 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

the Divine Energy which throbs in amoeba as in 
sun, and of the Divine Wisdom which, without 
lapse of memory or error of adjustment, preserves 
the integrity and harmony of nature. As science 
has pushed out and out to infinite depths the limits 
of the universe, and illuminated its network of in- 
tricate relations with the light of unifying law, the 
conception of the Eternal Spirit, from whom it 
issued and in whom it holds together, has mounted 
to an elevation which, compared with its former 
outlook, is as Teneriffe to a coral reef. 

2. Man. — What has science to tell us about 
man ? The long, full story is told in biology, 
physiology, psychology, anthropology, geology, 
archaeology. " Greek endings," these, said that 
wily dialectician, Bishop Blougram — 

Greek endings, each the little passing-bell 
That signifies some faith' s about to die. 

But we know now, rather, that the larger faith is 
at the birth. 

I may specify, first, that the old antithesis of 
man and nature is now seen to represent but a 
fraction of the truth, for man is himself within 
the order of nature, its highest phase. And while 
he walks at the head of the procession of life, he 
belongs to the procession. Other contributions 
of science which have theological bearing are : 



THE NEW APPEAL 59 

the unity of the races, which puts blood into that 
fine Christian metaphor " brotherhood of man " ; 
the origin of disease and the relation of defective 
physical organization to crime ; the physiology of 
habit ; the law of heredity ; the obscure movements 
of the sub-conscious personality and the laws of 
mental processes ; man's essentially religious nature. 
In short, the progress of natural knowledge in the 
past forty or fifty years has effected a revolution 
in our conception of man, of his physical and in- 
tellectual constitution, and of his relations to the 
universe of living and lifeless things. Already 
this immense contribution has deeply colored the 
stream of theological discussion, and, both as a 
correcting and as an enlarging influence, it is be- 
ginning to appear in formal theological treatises. 

3. The Bible. — Every religion claims to be a 
revelation, and its body of doctrine is explained as 
inspired. With the not very clear exception of 
the ancient Greeks and Romans, every race suffi- 
ciently advanced to have a literature has had a 
sacred literature in which its revelation is recorded, 
from the Hindus and their Vedas to the Salt 
Lakers and the "Book of Mormon." These present 
us, accordingly, with examples of the so-called 
" book religions." All primitive religions, on the 
other hand, though they depend no less directly 
upon inspiration for origin and maintenance, have 



60 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

no record, and revelation is held to be direct and 
continuous. Where the revelation is of record, 
inspiration ends with the completion of the record. 
As the record advances in sanctity, it attracts a 
class of professional interpreters who sooner or 
later develop an elaborate theory of inspiration, 
and this in turn stimulates the study of the minutest 
details of external structure ; the spirit abdicates, 
the letter takes the throne, and the mechanical 
record is itself held to be the revelation, 

Faith in the thing grown faith in the report. 

Professor Miiller tells us that six hundred years 
before Christ the theologians of India had counted 
every verse, word, and syllable of the one thousand 
and twenty-eight hymns of the Rig- Veda, and they 
denied any human element in any part of their 
production. 1 I need not remind you that the Jews 
of the time of Christ and a little later regarded 
their sacred Scriptures in precisely the same way, 
setting down the middle word and letter of each 
book of the Pentateuch, counting every word and 
letter and how many times each letter occurs. A 
tradition was current among them that Moses was 
detained in the mount because Yahweh required 
so much time to make the ornamental letters of 

1 Max Miiller, " Chips from a German Workshop," Vol. I., pp. 
17, 18. 



THE NEW APPEAL 6 1 

the Hebrew text. For many centuries the Chris- 
tian Scriptures escaped this devitalizing treatment. 
During the Middle Ages the Fathers were quoted, 
so I am told, with almost as much reverence as 
the Scripture writers. But with the repudiation 
of the " infallible church," and with the watch- 
words, " The Bible the religion of Protestants " 
and " The Scriptures alone sufficient for salva- 
tion," the Reformation set the tendency to a verbal 
theory of inspiration which in the next generation 
culminated in investing the Bible with the mechani- 
cal infallibility which had been denied to the Rom- 
ish church. Of course, the exigencies of contro- 
versy led to extreme positions, and it was not long 
before a formal literalism of conception became 
fixed, to be transmitted to our own day. 1 

In the hands of the latter-day scribes, whose num- 
bers are now rapidly diminishing, the Bible is first 
reduced to order and system, with due dependence 
and correlation of parts. The individuality of the 
writers fades out, the circumstances of their utter- 
ances sink below the horizon, and the most remote 
in time and method and aim are brought to the 
same plane and made to explain one another. The 
Bible becomes a mosaic of texts wherewith to con- 
found the enemy ; and a little skillful shifting of the 
pieces will yield a widely different pattern. The 

1 Cf. Paterson Smyth, " How God Inspired the Bible," Chap. V. 



62 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

example of this proof-text, utilitarian use of the 
Bible for the purposes of controversy is said to have 
been set by the authors of the " Westminster Con- 
fession." When that formulary was presented to 
Parliament for approval in 1646, it was returned 
with the requirement that Scripture be put to it. 
The task was undertaken and consumed nearly 
as much time as the construction of the Confes- 
sion itself. And the makers of the " Philadelphia 
Confession," I do not doubt, were as good a round 
hundred of men as England and Wales had ; but 
you will see that when they needed to build breast- 
works against the adversary and print their creed, 
they also were hard put to it to find suitable Scrip- 
ture for some of their statements. 1 

Such a rigid theory of verbal inspiration — one 
might say of syllabic inspiration — makes the appli- 
cation of the universal canons of literary interpre- 
tation an impertinence here. What a harvest we 
are reaping from it even to-day ! What a crop of 
disaster it yielded in the so-called conflict of science 
and religion ! Our crop of religious fads and fol- 
lies is, I fear, only beginning to come in, to the 
serious embarrassment of the churches. Here are 
faith-healing and Christian science, sinless per- 
fection and the second blessing, and painful fig- 

1 Cf. Isaiah 8 : 20, offered in proof of the authenticity of the 
Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. 



the New appeal 63 

tiring over cypher passages in Daniel and the 
Apocalypse, the key to which is lost ; Roman Cath- 
olic, Episcopalian, and Baptist ecclesiastical suc- 
cession, the Second Coming, with elaborate pro- 
grammes of showy pre-millenarian or post-mille- 
narian dignities and triumphal processions, the 
return of the Jews to Palestine, and that crowning 
absurdity of Anglo-Israel. I know not how many 
more vagaries will spring out of this same hotbed 
to distress us and dissipate in endless controversy 
the Christian energy which ought to be saving the 
world. 

Now, it may be admitted that eighteenth cen- 
tury skeptics made merry over the absurdities of 
this literalism, and that Coleridge on the part of 
the Christian community wrote an essay, published 
after his death in 1834, to correct them; but I 
maintain that, in the general " climate of opinion " 
which I have traced to the biological revolution, it 
is impossible for such a view of the Bible to sur- 
vive. The theory of the Bible as "a collection of 
supernatural syllables " puts it outside of nature 
and violates the method of God's action so far as 
it has been discovered by us. 

But we now have light not only on the structure 
of the Bible, but also on the aim of it. We see 
that neither historical nor scientific fact is the sub- 
ject of revelation proper, for revelation is con- 



64 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

cerned with that body of truth which is beyond 
ordinary methods of discovery. Its integrity as 
the revelation of God, therefore, would in no sense 
be impeached by the occurrence of either historical 
or scientific lapses. And the reconciliation book, 
like some of Sir William Dawson's, which was 
so common ten to twenty years ago, and which, 
with not a little distortion at times, forced his- 
tory and the Bible, and science and the Bible, 
into mechanical correspondence — such a book is 
already out of date and superfluous, for historical 
and physical investigation is in one sphere, revela- 
tion in another. They do not come into contact, 
much less conflict, and to fear the effect of the 
one upon the other is, to use Doctor Martineau's 
illustration, like being uneasy lest the tangent 
should cut a segment out of the circle. 

I need not dwell on the influence of the new 
view upon biblical interpretation. Intolerance, 
superstition, cruelty, must now make elsewhere 
their appeal for justification. Giving up witches 
is not giving up the Bible, as John Wesley thought, 
but freeing the Bible. If, in opposition to Martin 
Luther, we account for blindness and insanity in 
the language of modern medicine rather than as 
due to demoniac possession, we do not make void 
the Scripture ; we establish it. If we refuse either 
to burn or to brand the man who dares avow a 



THE NEW APPEAL 65 

religious opinion at variance with our own, it is 
not because we hold the truth of Scripture less 
passionately, but because we have absorbed the 
spirit of Scripture more deeply. The more we 
press in into immediate contact with the primary 
thought — which is the real thought — of the Bible, 
the more it throbs with a very human and con- 
tagious vitality. The more clearly we perceive it 
to be a human record of God's revelation of him- 
self through select channels of human experience, 
the more divine it grows, and the more universal 
and inviolable its authority. 1 

4. The New Authentication of the Spiritual 
World. — When Laplace made the formal presenta- 
tion of his work on " Celestial Mechanics " to Na- 
poleon, the latter said : " Laplace, they tell me you 
have written this large book on the system of the 
universe, and have never even mentioned its Crea- 
tor." "Sire," replied the mathematician, "I had 
no need of that hypothesis." I suppose it is true 
that in the majority of books of pure science pub- 
lished in the hundred years since that day, there 

1 The rescue of Christian doctrine from materialistic concep- 
tion and interpretation may be noted here. With the widening 
of our knowledge our conceptions have been forced upward into 
more spiritual planes, and the emphasis is transferred from the 
mechanical and the external to the internal and the vital. Com- 
pare the doctrines of miracle, the fall, inspiration, justification, 
judgment, and the future life. 

E 



66 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

occurs no reference to the spiritual world. Because 
it is thus apparently ignored by science, many 
have supposed that the general bearing of science 
was against it, especially when a leading repre- 
sentative here and there, like Du Bois-Reymond 
or Haeckel, has avowed the materialistic concep- 
tion of the total reality. But this impression has 
no better warrant than has uncertainty about the 
canonicity of the book of Esther because it does 
not mention the name of God. The omission in 
both cases may be due, not to hostility to this 
realm of ideas, but to some other cause. Certainly 
in the case of science as such, which explicitly 
limits itself to the investigation of secondary 
causes, — the sequence of phenomena under the for- 
mula of the conservation of energy, — the omission 
is involved in its vocation and is wholly explained 
by it. That science harbors no implicit denial of 
what is called the supernatural, is sufficiently 
shown in the practical test of the personal atti- 
tude of scientists toward it. A recent census of 
scientific opinion has been made with cafe in 
Germany, where, according to the popular notion, 
men are least bound by traditional restrictions. 
The conclusion established by this census, as stated 
by Doctor Dennert who made it, is that " the ma- 
jority of specialists in natural sciences are pro- 
nounced adherents of positive Christianity, or at 



THE NEW APPEAL 67 

least of a theistic type of religious thought." 1 
The probability is that where unbelief does occur 
among men of this class, it is the result, as so 
often elsewhere, not of therr inquiries, but of pre- 
occupation with their inquiries. Prof. Huxley him- 
self has admitted that evolution is neither anti- 
theistic nor theistic, declaring that it has no more 
to do with theism than the first book of Euclid 
has. 2 

But I think that we may now go further than 
this, and say that, while science in its strict capac- 
ity cannot affirm the spiritual world, its total inu 
pression in men's minds to-day thoroughly dis- 
credits materialism. The materialistic philosophy 
is dead, and curiously enough it is the so-called 
materialistic science which we have to thank for 
it. For, you will observe, the physical sciences 
have pressed forward with such vigor and success, 
and their methods have justified themselves so 
clearly with every stage of advance, that their im- 
potence before the ultimate mysteries of matter, 
force, and life, has latterly created the presump- 
tion that the mechanical view does not exhaust the 
content of the universe ; that, the physico-chemi- 

1 "Literary Digest," Jan. 28, 1899, which quotes " Zeitschrift 
filr Theol. und Kirche" (Berlin), 9 : I,/. 

2 F. Darwin's "Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," Vol. 
I., p. 556. 



68 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

cal explanation failing at the crucial point, there is 
somewhat in the totality of things which is not 
amenable to physical and chemical tests. And so 
science has made straight the highway for the 
coming of the spiritualistic philosophy, which is 
now the dominant philosophy. The ultimate re- 
ality is no longer matter, but mind. The real 
world is the world of spirit. Moral and spiritual 
laws become natural laws. The supernatural is 
itself naturalized in the universe, not by degrading 
it to a lower plane, but by extending the sphere of 
the natural to include it. 

And so at last the night of civil strife between 
the intellect and the heart breaks in a dawn of 
peace. Our highest intellectual demand is for 
simplicity and unity of conception, and accordingly 
the intellect postulates the external world and the 
uniformity of nature. Our highest moral demand 
is for the eternal supremacy of righteousness, and 
accordingly the heart postulates the super-sensuous 
world. The first postulate is the faith of science, 
the second is the faith of religion. 1 They seemed 
incompatible ; 

But that blind clamour made me wise. 
And we now see that the faith of science in the 

1 Cf. Royce, "Religious Aspect of Philosophy," Chap. IX., 
and Emma Marie Caillard, "Contemporary Review," Dec, 1899. 



THE NEW APPEAL 69 

uniformity of nature can be realized only on the 
ground of the faith of religion in the spiritual 
world. Here again, as ever, the old truth issues 
from its trial wearing a new aspect, but no less 
precious to the heart because it authenticates it- 
self to the intellect. 

If you ask, What shall we think of our Lord him- 
self in this time of reconstruction and reorganiza- 
tion ? there is but one reply, and I care not whether 
you get it from John Stuart Mill or George J. Ro- 
manes. Said Mill, the logician : " Whatever else 
may be taken away from us by rational criticism, 
Christ is still left, . . charged with a special, ex- 
press, and unique commission to lead mankind to 
truth and virtue." 1 And this is the witness of 
Romanes, the biologist : " One of the strongest 
pieces of objective evidence in favor of Chris- 
tianity . . is the absence from the biography of 
Christ of any doctrines which the subsequent 
growth of human knowledge — whether in natural 
science, ethics, political economy, or elsewhere — 
has had to discount." 2 It is even so. The original 
uniqueness of Jesus remains. His spiritual lead- 
ership is unaffected by the progress of the race 
since his day. It was as clear in the Greek world 
of art and literature and the Roman world of law 

1 Courtney's "Life of John Stuart Mill," p. 171. 

2 "Romanes, "Thoughts on Religion," p. 157. 



JO LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

and social organization, as it was in the simple life 
of Palestine. It is as distinct and unassailable in 
the modern world of science as it was in the nar- 
row horizon of the ancient Judaism. We still say 
what Charles Lamb said when a company of emi- 
nent men of letters were amusing themselves with 
the question how they would feel if the greatest of 
the dead should suddenly appear among them in 
flesh and blood. It was asked, " And if Christ en- 
tered this room ? " Lamb's manner changed at 
once, and he stammered out : " You see, if Shakes- 
peare entered, we should all rise ; if He entered, 
we must kneel." 



LECTURE III 
THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 



Unless ye utter by the tongue speech easy to be under- 
stood, how shall it be known what is spoken ? for ye will 
be speaking into the air. . . If then I know not the mean- 
ing of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barba- 
rian, and he that speaketh will be a barbarian unto me. 

Though I was free from all men, I brought myself under 
bondage to all, that I might gain the more. And to the' 
Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews ; to them 
that are under the law, as under the law, not being myself 
under the law, that I might gain them that are under the 
law ; to them that are without law, as without law, not being 
without law to God, but under law to Christ, that I might 
gain them that are without law. To the weak I became 
weak, that I might gain the weak : I am become all things to 
all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all 
things for the gospel' s sake. 

— Paxil, i Cor. 14 : q, // ; 9 ; IQ-23. 

They who study the phenomena of living beings tell us 
that light is the great stimulus of life, and that the fullness 
of the life of a being or of any of its members may be 
measured by the variety, the swiftness, and the certainty of 
the means by which it is in touch with its surroundings. 

— Michael Foster, " Presidential Address," British Association, i8qq. 

New times demand new measures and new men ; 
The world advances, and in time outgrows 
The laws that in our fathers' day were best ; 
And doubtless after us some purer scheme 
Will be shaped out by wiser men than we, 
Made wiser by the steady growth of truth. 

—James Russell Lowell, "A Glance Behind the Curtain." 



Ill 



We have now sketched the genesis of the bio- 
logical revolution and noted some of its results. 
These results may all be conveniently summarized 
in a single sentence : We have gained a new point 
of view and a new method. The first has given 
us a new world, a new physical, a new intellectual, 
and a new spiritual world. Of course, the objec- 
tive reality remains the same ; but, you know, the 
observer half creates the landscape, as the reader 
half writes the poem. What one sees depends 
upon where one stands, rather than upon any spe- 
cial differentiation of the organ of vision. From the 
new station which we occupy we recognize the 
dear old features, but they show a new perspective 
and proportion ; we discover harmonious relations 
bridging the cold vacancies of the former time. 
But old features in new relations acquire a new 
meaning and make a new appeal. Here is the 
new world in which we stand to-day, for the world 
is to us the sum of the relations which we per- 
ceive. The new method which we have gained 
from biology sets us new tasks in this new world, 
because it confers upon us a new equipment. 

73 



74 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

It remains now to consider the somewhat more 
practical matter of the preacher's attitude in this 
changed environment. Does he live the life of to- 
day, or of long-passed yesterdays ? Does he speak 
with the " new tongue " which was designated at 
the beginning as the sign and authentication of 
his mission, or does he speak to the living world 
in a dead language ? His message — does it die at 
the rim of his lip in "the unknown tongue" ? If 
so, the renovation work of the revolution is not 
finished. It must not stop with the reconstruction 
of theology which I have suggested, but pass on 
to the reconstruction of the theologian also. 

We are able to resist but feebly the impression 
that a crisis confronts organized Christianity to- 
day, a practical problem involving the gravest 
issues. Some will perhaps deny it and point to 
the triumphs of the gospel over pagan systems, to 
the high percentage of increase in the member- 
ship of some of our churches, and to the growing 
incorporation of Christian principles into the or- 
ganic life of the world. Others will say, " Crisis 
or no crisis, hands off ! the ark of God is safe in 
his own keeping." As to the first objection, it is 
to be observed that, while we must allow and re- 
joice in the facts cited in its support, these facts 
do not in reality touch the question at issue. The 
second objection wears the pietistic air, and looks 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 75 

like the unwary indifference which one would least 
expect in the chosen custodians of the heavenly 
treasure. I have read that, among the gods and 
goddesses of Olympus who made themselves merry 
with nectar and ambrosia, there was one goddess 
who, although surrounded with mirth and standing 
in the safe presence of the father of gods and 
men, yet always wore a coat of mail and kept her 
spear in hand. It was the goddess of wisdom. 
We would best see all that is to be seen in the 
present situation, and be on our guard against 
whatever of peril may lurk in it. 

Let me speak, then, of the present situation of 
organized, or institutional, Christianity. If the 
discussion fall into medical divisions, it is not be- 
cause I wish to take the r61e or the responsibilities 
of physician to the case, but only for the sake of 
convenience. 

I. SYMPTOMS. 

i. On the threshold of the investigation we 
meet a clearly marked symptom. It is the forma- 
tion of a religious public opinion outside the pul- 
pit and the church. In the early Christian cen- 
turies the religious teaching which was formulated 
by councils was spread and established in the pop- 
ular mind by the pulpit, beyond which, indeed, but 
few felt it necessary to go for the authorization of 



76 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

religious opinions. This supremacy of the pulpit 
continued far into this century, and survives even 
now in such remote districts as have engaged the 
pen of Ian Maclaren and Mr. Barrie. Even within 
this last moat it is threatened, for 

Far back, through creeks and inlets making, 
Comes silent, flooding in, the main. 

Certainly where the currents of the modern world 
flow, the preacher's original prerogative to create 
public opinion is already surrendered. Contrast the 
absolute authority of the preacher whom you meet 
in the pages of Nathaniel Hawthorne, for exam- 
ple, — authority extending even to the world of 
letters and of business, — contrast this intellectual 
and spiritual despotism with the severely hedged 
jurisdiction of to-day. The newspaper, the maga- 
zine, and the book have undermined the old author- 
ity and divided the realm. Indeed, it would seem 
to be more accurate to speak, not of division, but 
of usurpation, of the realm ; for the journalist and 
the novelist are heard to-day on religious matters 
with the consideration which in the former period 
was enjoyed only by ministers. Accordingly, it 
has seemed advisable to some men who had a mes- 
sage for their time, to leave the pulpit and take 
the pen of the editor or the novelist, in order to 
reach the public mind through the best accredited 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE JJ 

channel. The privilege of the freest criticism of 
church and pulpit by this secular authority is 
assumed and allowed. Extravagance or folly or 
lapse is held to strict account before the bar of the 
outer public opinion. And so the pulpit, from 
being the highest thing in sight except the ceiling, 
has been gradually graded down until it stands on a 
level with the pew. Heine says somewhere that, 
when he first saw Goethe he instinctively looked 
for the eagle of Zeus at his side. This self-con- 
tained period feels no such instinct in the presence 
of the preacher. The throne is vacant, the eagle 
flown. 

2. The second symptom to present itself is the 
unrest inside the church. It manifests itself in 
official and in lay circles, in the organism and in 
the individual constituents. In a former lecture 
we have dwelt sufficiently upon the confusion 
which prevails in theology. 

More important, because more pervasive, is the 
religious doubt which distresses so many members 
of all Christian communions. What some one 
has lately called "the puny two-by-four infidelity" 
in the world without, we may leave alone until we 
have relieved the doubt of avowed Christians. To 
be sure, there are many, very many, who have 
passed the narrows and are out on the wide " sea 
of faith " now " at the full." And there are many 



7 8 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

stolid, unreflecting natures which are described by 
Rabbi Ben Ezra, when he says : 

Rather, I prize the doubt, 
Low kinds exist without — 
Finished and finite clods untroubled by a spark 

But between these two extremes is a group of men 
and women, I fear a larger group than either of 
the others, — devout, generous, and alive in intel- 
lect and heart, — who are daily haunted by " the 
spectres of the mind " and lack the courage or the 
skill to face and lay them. They do not advertise 
their troubles, but for the most part coerce their 
doubts into a decorous silence. But in moments 
of close fellowship, when the barriers which habit- 
ually isolate even friend from friend melt down, 
when a window is opened into that Binnenleben, 
that buried life in which consciousness dwells alone 
with its secrets — among the revelations of such 
fine moments, the ghosts of doubt, thick-set like 
the sighing spirits in Dante's Limbo, are most 
apt to appear. 

These doubts, which can be neither denied nor 
denounced, not only cloud the individual spirit and 
impede its free development, but they also de- 
teriorate the Christian standard, waste the Chris- 
tian energy, and cut the nerve of Christian activity. 

3. But we must pass to note a third symptom of 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 79 

the present situation, the tendency to desert the 
churches. A number of Christian denominations 
have been startled recently by the discovery that 
their total membership in the country is actually 
declining. The solicitude of the governor of New 
Hampshire for the religious condition of his State 
has attracted wide attention and not a little criti- 
cism. But within the week past the matter has 
been discussed by a careful observer who, though 
he employs less hyperbole, yet confirms the gov- 
ernor's facts, and goes so far as to say that they 
are true for the most part for nearly all the farm- 
ing districts of New England. For example, 
Maine has two hundred and eighty-two pastorless 
churches, some of whose buildings now serve as 
cheese-factories and dance-halls. The common at- 
titude toward religion prevalent over wide areas 
is said to be one of stolid indifference. Happily 
such a condition seems to us of this part of the 
country extremely remote ; but I cite it as a warn- 
ing, for it is a culmination of tendencies some of 
which at least are visible among us. A tendency 
is to be judged in its catastrophe. 

It is notorious that the grip which the church 
secures in the Sunday-school upon the young does 
not suffice to hold them beyond the time when 
they assume personal control of themselves. A 
Christian worker and man of large business in 



80 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

Philadelphia said to me a month ago, that the prob- 
lem of the city church is to hold the boys. " They 
slip through our fingers," said he. And what of 
attendance upon the services of the church ? That 
appears to have declined generally. A recent 
census in Pittsburg, for example, showed that 
twenty-five thousand persons had given up the 
habit of church attendance. Put a fact like this 
alongside the high percentage of increase in church- 
membership (thirty-four per cent, in the closing- 
decade, while increase of population has been only 
thirteen per cent.), and the question arises, Do 
the members gathered in drop out of the services 
later ? Is the membership itself chargeable with 
swelling the ranks of the army of stay-at-homes ? 

4. I mention but one other general fact bearing 
upon the church crisis, and that is, the unimpeded 
progress of Christian sentiment and principles and 
of Christian activities, in spite of the defection 
from the leadership of the preacher and in spite of 
the comparative desertion of the churches. Have 
church and pulpit educated the community in right 
feeling and right conduct, and so made themselves 
superfluous ? After giving the cue, have they 
withdrawn ? Have they initiated and set a ten- 
dency which is henceforth capable of independent 
continuance ? A group of refined and educated 
young men and young women will establish a col- 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 8 1 

lege settlement among the poor and ignorant, with- 
out any sort of church affiliation or distinctively 
Christian leadership. Here is a man who denies 
your dogma and never darkens the church door, 
but yet surrenders himself in the service of others. 
Here is another man of the highest intelligence 
and Christian character, who nevertheless con- 
siders some things in even the " Philadelphia Con- 
fession " to be absolutely irrational and monstrous. 
Such a man will say with Romola, " God's king- 
dom is something wider than your party — else, let 
me stand outside it with the beings that I love." 

II. DIAGNOSIS. 

We come now to ask, "What is it that has 
made all this trouble ? To what common cause or 
causes may all the symptoms enumerated be re- 
ferred ? " Of course, the problem is one of ex- 
treme complexity, as are all life problems. It pre- 
sents numerous factors, and they are multiplied 
into one another indefinitely. We have probably 
not exhausted the symptomatology and for that 
reason are in danger of going astray in the diag- 
nosis. But recall the several indications of dis- 
order all together : a secular public opinion on re- 
ligious matters, unrest inside the church, relative 
desertion of the church, and unimpeded progress 
of Christian sentiment and activities in spite of 



82 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

the other symptoms. Now, whatever other causes, 
social or individual, conspired to produce this state 
of things, we shall probably agree that the two 
causes which I shall name exercised the dominant 
influence. In the last analysis the two may be re- 
solved into one, but I speak of them separately 
for clearness' sake. 

I. The strain of the divergence of the old dogma 
and the new knowledge. We are in the midst of 
the breaking up of life habits and thought habits, 
and the religious consciousness is both confused 
and sensitive. It vibrates uneasily between the 
old and the new, fearing disaster if it let go its 
hold of the old forms, and suspicious of the new 
conceptions lest they involve the loss of the old 
and still precious truth itself along with the molds 
in which it has been received. The varieties of 
individual temperament and training come into 
play. Your hot-blooded radical, with the enthu- 
siasm of the fresh knowledge upon him, doubts 
the theological tradition to-day and scouts it to- 
morrow. Your conservative of the slower pulse 
can see nothing but utter wreck if this tide of 
theories of which the fathers never heard is not 
checked ; and his spirit is stirred to an energy 
of denunciation proportionate to the vividness of 
his imaginary terrors. Here is the condition out 
of which spring divisions in the body of Christ, 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 83 

disquieting doubts, and the decline of interest in 
the distinctive work of organized Christianity. 
But we may encourage ourselves with this reflec- 
tion, that in the heart of this divergence lie the 
noblest characteristics of the human nature, the 
passion for God and the passion for truth. And 
I should despair of the race and deny " the glory 
of the sum of things," if these two passions could 
for long be at variance. The completion of their 
reconciliation in many an individual experience al- 
ready is the prophecy of the general experience a 
little later. 

2. The second cause of the present critical situ- 
ation is the pulpit's attitude of resistance to science. 
It will require of us a more detailed consideration 
than the first required. I speak of what appears 
to be a common attitude ; I beg of you to remem- 
ber that it is not universal, for surely no man can 
recall with more pleasure than I do the hundreds 
of particular pulpits to which these remarks have 
no sort of application. The liberally educated sec- 
tion of the ministry, with occasional exceptions, 
has outgrown the attitude against which I warn 
you. Indeed, in the communities marked by the 
general progressiveness of the modern spirit, the 
survival of this adverse temper respecting science 
is now of rare occurrence. But this was not true 
of the period antedating 1875, during which the 



84 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

seeds of our present trouble were sown ; and in 
the fields to which most of you will go, the same 
seeds thickening in the theological air will meet you 
often, and the pressure will not be slight upon you 
to lend a hand in scattering more. 

It is the fact of the unsympathetic attitude 
which invites our first thought. We shall discover 
it in two quarters — in pulpit utterances proper, of 
course, and in the religious press, which, except in 
rare cases, is under direct ministerial control, and, 
in all cases, so far as this matter is concerned, is 
little more than an expanded sermon to a larger 
congregation. 

There is one section of the Christian community 
which is formally committed to the ultra-conserva- 
tive position. It is by conscious determination al- 
ways in the opposition. It is anti-mission, anti- 
Sunday-school, anti-education, anti-progress, anti- 
action. It reminds one of the society of the 
Amalgamated Sons of Rest, mentioned in " Beside 
the Bonny Brier Bush," who by their constitution 
and articles of faith were opposed to all work 
between meals. The good people to whom I refer 
say : " If it is new, it is not true ; if it is true, it is 
not new." It is no matter of surprise that they 
find it impossible to keep their place in the modern 
world, with whose spirit and methods they have so 
little in common. This case is of especial interest 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 85 

and importance, because the relation assumed to 
the modern world is logically consistent, and be- 
cause the effect of that relation upon the denomi- 
nation itself and upon the world is not complicated 
by foreign factors, and is now as open to observa- 
tion and unmistakable as the result of a carefully 
conducted scientific experiment. Anti-mission Bap- 
tists make no appreciable mark on the face of cur- 
rent history and are rapidly dropping into extinc- 
tion. The dependence of vitality upon adjustment 
to environment is a biological law of universal ap- 
plication, and the death of Hardshellism is due 
to precisely the same cause as that of the Siberian 
mammoth. 

But other Christian teachers do not go to such 
extremes. They accept the modern world, barring 
a few of its features only. Some take the whole 
of it except Board organization, woman's work in 
the church, the young people's movement, and 
science. Others take it all except woman's work, 
the young people's movement, and science. Others 
admit the legitimacy of woman's work, but reject 
the young people's movement and science. Others 
ctill reject science only. Science is the great ex- 
seption. There are some, indeed, who make choice 
among the sciences of the modern world. They 
accept physics and chemistry, but biology ! — they 
cannot away with biology. They agree that the 



86 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

world is round, but they deny the other scientific 
fact that it gradually came to be what it is to-day. 
The stock quotation from the first letter to Tim- 
othy — " science falsely so called " — is unfortunately 
for them sadly mutilated in the Revised version. 
And that fact, if they have discovered it, gives 
additional justification of their general rejection of 
that version. The names Darwin, Tyndall, and 
Huxley, usually now do the duty formerly done by 
Voltaire and Paine, of illuminating and adding the 
flavor of learning to the reference to infidelity. If 
science is mentioned at all, it is with the air of apology 
or detraction. " If geology conflicts with the Bible, 
so much the worse for your geology." " Evolution 
excludes revelation. Such a theory we ought to hate 
with a perfect hatred." " The modern notion 
defies God whose existence it denies, and dishonors 
man by a brute alliance and the denial of the future 
life." A certain theologian who, of course, was 
not opposed to education and probably wrote his 
book by electric light, yet said of his " Dogmatics " 
when published : " It is good, all good ! There's 
not a modern thing in it." You are familiar with 
the echo and elaboration of these opinions in the 
religious press. 

Permit me to make two or three remarks about 
this attitude. 

In the first place, let me say that it is due to 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 87 

misconception of the content and implications of 
science. You rarely observe it except in the case 
of those whose educational period antedated the 
modern view, or who were otherwise deprived of 
the opportunity of scientific training. 

Secondly, it fails to make the palpable and fun- 
damental distinction between the materialistic view 
and the theistic view, and so sets a false and in- 
jurious alternative — " Bible or science," " Moses 
or Darwin. 1 ' In reality it is the philosophy of 
materialism that is feared, not science. ''Arith- 
metic," says Sidney Smith, " is the natural cure 
for the passion of fear. If a coward can be made 
to count his enemies, his terrors may be reasoned 
with." Now, we have already seen that material- 
ism no longer has standing as a philosophical sys- 
tem. Darwin was no materialist, 1 neither was 

1 It is an intolerable thought that men and all other sentient be- 
ings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued 
progress. . . Another source of the conviction of the existence of 
God connected with the reason and not with the feelings impresses 
me as having much weight. This follows from the extreme diffi- 
culty, or rather impossibility, of conceiving this immense and won- 
derful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far 
backward and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or 
necessity. . . I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such 
abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things 
is insoluble by us, and I for one must be content to remain an 
agnostic. — Charles Darwin, " Life and Letters ," Vol. L., p. 282. 
In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in 
the sense of denying the existence of God. — Ibid., p. 274. 



88 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

Tyndall, 1 nor Huxley ; 2 and if the premises of 
the " Synthetic Philosophy " do, to many minds, in- 
volve materialistic conceptions, Mr. Spencer him- 
self, in the preface of " The Data of Ethics," seems 
to perceive the intellectual opprobrium of the philos- 
ophy of mud and at least intimates that the term 
" materialist " would not properly describe his 
position. 3 You may count on the fingers of one 
hand the scientists of corresponding distinction 
who hold the anti-theistic view. I say this, not 

1 The passage from the physics of the brain to the correspond- 
ing facts of consciousness is unthinkable. . . I do not think the 
materialist is entitled to say that his molecular groupings and 
motions explain everything. In reality they explain nothing. . . 
If you ask him whence is this matter of which we have been dis- 
coursing — who or what divided it into molecules, who or what 
impressed upon them this necessity of running into organic forms, 
he has no answer. Science is mute in reply to these questions. — 
Tyndall, "Scientific Materialism'''' in "Fragments of Science." 

2 When materialists stray beyond the borders of their path, and 
talk about there being nothing else in the world but matter and 
forces and necessary laws, . . I decline to follow them. — Hux- 
ley, in a paper before the Metaphysical Society, quoted in " The 
Forum, " 20 : jo. 

8 Cfi further the following : Speaking for myself only I may say 
that, agreeing entirely with Mr. Martineau in repudiating the ma- 
terialistic interpretation as utterly futile, I differ from him in this, 
that while he says he has found another interpretation, I confess 
that I cannot find any interpretation ; while he holds that he can 
understand the power which is manifested in things, I feel obliged 
to admit, after many failures, that I cannot understand it. — Her- 
bert Spencer, " Mr. Martineau on Evolution,'' 1 in " Recent Dis- 
cussions in Science, Philosophy, and Morals." 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 89 

because such a question can be settled by lists of 
names, but to show that the theistic view of evolu- 
tion is demonstrated to be tenable by the fact that 
it is actually held by the majority of the naturalists 
of the world. 

But another bugbear confronts the preacher and 
grows to formidable proportions in the dim light 
through which it is seen. A good and true man 
was talking to me in the laboratory about these 
matters. As he turned to go, he said, " Well, my 
grandfather was no tadpole ! " As if a man could 
select his ancestors, and nature were under neces- 
sity to respect his choice ! Is it not singular that 
direct origin from clay itself carries no impeach- 
ment of dignity, but if the clay is once elevated 
into living forms and these are interposed in the 
line of derivation, they impart to it an ineradicable 
taint ? Let me give you a piece of child philoso- 
phy, which, so far from being childish, is just the 
silver bullet to kill this ghost. A bit of four- 
years' beauty turned suddenly to me the other day 
with the light of a fresh discovery shining in her 
face, and said : " Did you know I was made out o' 
dirt ? " I pinched gently the velvet of her hand 
and cheek and said: "This does not look like dirt 
to me." With the air of surprise at my dullness, 
she replied: "Well, I was dirt, but I j'owed to 
meat ! " 



gO LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

I have now to remark that this hostile attitude 
toward science is irrational. Of course, it results 
from the impression that science clashes with cer- 
tain religious opinions, and in the warmth of con- 
cern for these, the impression itself escapes any 
real first-hand examination. What is science ? 
Science is the translation into human speech of the 
thought of God expressed in nature. It is the 
ordered body of fact so far as human faculties are 
competent to discover and report it. If this report 
does not conform to truth, where will truth be 
found, and how ? The man who criticises and 
denies the facts of science, denies man's ability to 
discover truth, and therefore discredits his own 
criticism. 

But, you say, no man of intelligence denies the 
facts of science. It is only the theories of science 
that excite the hostility of many pulpits. But what 
are scientific theories ? They are the general 
principles derived by induction from the observed 
facts of nature. The doctrine of gravitation is a 
theory. The doctrine of the ether, "the nomina- 
tive case of the verb to undulate," is a scientific 
theory. Now, I do not say that a scientific theory 
upon which the scientists of the world agree pre- 
sents itself to others for acceptance with quite the 
same authority as a correspondingly attested fact ; 
but I do maintain that the presumption behind it 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 91 

is so strong that no man whose work lies in a non- 
scientific sphere is warranted in rejecting it because 
it is supposed to collide with certain of his religious 
opinions. The only rational course open to him is, 
so far as he is able, to make the necessary adjust- 
ments in his system of opinions, under the convic- 
tion that the kingdom of truth is one, and that 
God cannot speak one thing in one section of it 
and a different thing in another. 1 But, maybe 
this is not God's world ! Perhaps an enemy hath 
done this ! Or is it a chance-sown seed in the 
illimitable night, without purpose, without law, 
and making no appeal to the intellect of its highest 
product ? Maybe there is no intellect to appeal to ! 
The preacher's hostility to science is not only 
irrational, it is also ineffectual. It presents no 
obstacle to the progress of science, for it is too 
remote from the line of progress to come into con- 



1 Science we must treat as absolute mistress of her own do- 
main. Of the world as a whole, of the eternal as such, of infinite 
past time, of the inner truth of things, science pretends to tell and 
can tell nothing. Nor does science invent, nor can she prove, 
her own postulates. But in the application of her postulates to 
the facts, in the discovery of particular laws, science is almighty. 
To doubt her capacity as highest judge in this field is flagrant 
contempt of court. Science is just the Infinite Thought as far 
as it is yet by us realized in the facts of nature. A priori we 
can realize nothing about finite facts, save that they must be capa- 
ble of rational comprehension. — Royce, "Religious Aspect of 
Philosophy, ' ' p. 461. 



92 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

tact with it, much less to impede it. Nor can that 
attitude permanently check the spread of scientific 
opinion. It must yield, as it has been compelled 
to do often before. Andrew D. White's large 
work on the " History of the Warfare between 
Science and Theology" is the record of such ad- 
justments from the first days of the Copernican 
astronomy down to the present. 

And may I add, that this hostile bearing is un- 
wise ? Young men and young women in increas- 
ing numbers are coming into the pews directly 
from the chemical, physical, and biological labora- 
tories where they have imbibed the scientific spirit 
and acquired reverence for the laws of nature as 
being God's laws. Certainly for these and many 
more, the slur upon science and men of science 
has but one effect — to discredit both preacher and 
message. More and more, as knowledge grows 
and unrolls " her ample page " before the eyes of 
the average hearer, opposition to science will turn 
the book-board into a stone wall reaching to the 
ceiling, and the preacher will be on one side of it 
and the congregation on the other. And it will 
not be long before to this separation the congre- 
gation will add the wall of the house. 

Here again, in the pulpit's unfriendly attitude 
toward science, we find an explanation of the 
growth of public opinion on religious topics in- 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 93 

dependently of the pulpit, the confusion of opinion 
in the pew, and the tendency to drop out of rela- 
tion to the church altogether. 

III. THERAPEUTICS. 

I pass now to a pleasanter part of the discussion. 
What is to be done to correct the symptoms ? 
But this is not enough. We wish to do what the 
colored physician meant, though the language 
of his advertisement was not felicitous. He said 
his plan was first to cure the disease and then 
eradicate the system. What is wanted is the 
removal of the root out of which the symptoms 
spring. You already anticipate the appropriate 
treatment. But there are two classes of patients. 
There is first the class of preachers in whom the 
odium scienticB has become chronic. What they 
need is change of air, an ocean voyage. They 
want to go abroad. Let them hook themselves on 
in the nearest places as best they may to the cur- 
rent thought of the world. They must keep open 
house to the truth, and give it, when properly ac- 
credited, a cordial reception even though its face 
be new and its tongue the language of science. 
For there is no infidelity so deep or so dangerous 
as " the fear lest the truth be bad." 

The other class of patients to whom I referred 
includes the preachers who are yet in the prepara- 



94 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

tory stages of their career. For these, prophy- 
laxis, or prevention, is the proper treatment. In 
view of the great importance of this class — the 
future is in its hands — I beg that you delay with 
me to consider in more detail the training of the 
preacher which the new time seems to demand. 
I do not forget that I am offering to speak of the 
drama in the presence of Shakespeares. I do it 
only with the sincerest deference to expert opinion, 
and only for the purpose of presenting the point 
of view of the man in the pew. 

Let me first remark, in general, that the mission 
of the preacher is primarily a practical one, and 
his technical training should not lose sight of this 
fact. The details of the history of dogma, of the 
rise and refutation of heresies, appear to a layman 
to receive exaggerated attention in view of the 
complexity, tension, and distress of the modern 
world, in which the minister will do his work and 
for which this history of Christian metaphysics 
supplies but little precedent. Systematic theology 
is serviceable, provided it is not too systematic. 
The service which it renders in clearing up one's 
opinions about God and man and their relations to 
each other is, I fear, subject to heavy discounts 
on the score of its cold-blooded dissection of the 
living Scripture for props and glue, its tendency 
to freeze into a rigid system which permits no 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 95 

adaptations to the world's growing knowledge, its 
all but certain usurpation of the respect and alle- 
giance due to religion itself alone, and yet again on 
account of the incubus of authority with which it 
weights the student's intellectual and spiritual 
progress. And the fringes of this ephod of theo- 
logical learning, which are "for glory and for 
beauty," such as patristic Greek and Latin, Chal- 
dee and Arabic, agree thoroughly with its pattern 
and color-scheme ; they have their place and 
function. Only they seem to squint a trifle with 
one eye toward the seclusion of a self-centered 
scholarship, and with the other toward the mag- 
nification of the letter of Scripture and the res- 
toration of the authority " of them of old time." 
And one cannot but be glad to see beside these 
studies — golden bell alternating with pomegranate 
— such vital and pressing subjects as social prob- 
lems and institutions, the history and methods 
of mission work, and the bearing of the general- 
izations of science upon Christian truth. 

Now let me remark that the preacher's train- 
ing ought at some stage of it to provide for the 
cultivation of the scientific spirit. That spirit has 
three characteristics, — sympathy with the phases 
of external nature, in which Jesus anticipated the 
modern world, reverence for truth, and acceptance 
of the supremacy of the law of cause and effect. 



96 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

It would be profitable to discuss the influence of 
this scientific spirit in the preacher's teaching and 
work, but I have time now only to remark that it is 
not best acquired by the reading of scientific books, 
for these detail results, but rarely communicate 
spirit. You remember the result of David Cop- 
perfield's reading to Peggoty an essay about the 
crocodile. He says that when the reading was 
over she had a cloudy impression that the croco- 
dile was a kind of vegetable. The facts of nature 
must be got directly from nature, and the scientific 
spirit grows up in the actual presence of nature 
in field or laboratory. If, therefore, I have not 
exaggerated the importance of the biological point 
of view, the technical training of the preacher 
ought either to presuppose or -provide a course in 
the science of biology. 1 

1 It is, of course, important that the preacher should know 
the broader features of the science of his time, the general results 
of scientific inquiry. And there are now many books which pre- 
sent them in clear and attractive style. Such knowledge will save 
him from the inconsiderate opposition of which we have com- 
plained, will put him into sympathetic relation to a large and im- 
portant section of current life and thought, and will supply to him 
a wealth of illustrative material closely akin to his proper theme. 
The Bible opens with a cosmogony, and that which distinguishes 
its later writings, as the fourth Gospel and the Colossian and 
Philippian letters, is the atmosphere and impress of the universal 
and cosmic relations of Christ. In its spiritual aspects, life is 
brought to light in the gospel ; in its physical aspects, life is 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 97 

I have but one other suggestion. Be on guard 
against the dangers of specialism. Seminary 
training, being technical, is of necessity specialist 
training. I am not sure that it might not be 
broadened by the addition of a course of literature, 
especially in an institution like this, which receives 
men of all grades of educational opportunity. But 
it is your own private studies in non-theological 
realms that I have now in mind. These will not 
only preserve your mental poise, but keep you in 
touch with the human environment which you wish 
to mold to righteousness. I have read of a Ger- 
man mathematician who devoted ten years to the 
study of the regular polygon of sixty-five thou- 
sand five hundred and thirty-seven sides. I do 
not know why he stopped the study at the close of 
the ten years, but it is not unlikely that he had no 
mind left to study with. The man of one book 
does not know that book. He certainly cannot 
interpret it to a generation whose intellectual life 
and interests are chiefly absorbed in a varied and 
voluminous literature. 

The heart, not the brain, is the organ of re- 
ligion. As Pascal says, it is the heart which feels 
God, and not the reason. The appeal of Jesus is 
not made to the logical faculty, but to feeling and 

brought to light in biology. The two revelations extend and sup- 
plement each other, both being God's 

G 



98 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

imagination. And these are our highest powers. 
The reason analyzes, excludes, restricts ; the imagi- 
nation escapes all limitation, embraces, creates. 
Imagination takes wing where reason's clambering 
stops. Beyond the veils of mystery that entangle 
and thwart the reason, imagination presses to take 
God's message, and so philosophy says that re- 
ligion is revealed. Comte's so-called " religion of 
humanity" was foredoomed to barrenness as being 
only a set of rationalized principles for the regula- 
tion of conduct ; and its power to attract men 
quite free to choose may be seen in Prof. Huxley's 
remark that he would as lief worship a wilderness 
of apes. We feel what we do not understand. We 
are swayed by forces which the intellect denies. 
We bow before gods whose names we cannot call. 
Faith is not conviction, but response; not belief, 
but a following ; not assent to intellectual propo- 
sitions, whether about God or Christ or the Bible, 
but the heart's answer to the appeal of the unseen 
realities. " The venture of faith " is upon imagi- 
nation's wing. 

The deep religious significance of the great 
poets is, therefore, precisely what we should ex- 
pect. For their proper sphere is the range of feel- 
ing, and imagination is the wand of their power. 
Like many another note of God's universal har- 
mony which we call nature, poetry spurns the 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 99 

bonds of logic ; it is hard to define. But I sup- 
pose its most essential and distinctive mark to be 
its imaginative accent and appeal. It is imagina- 
tion calling to imagination through the warm at- 
mosphere of emotion. The great poet is first of 
all a seer, and that divine gift of vision conse- 
crates him God's prophet. Says Browning's glori- 
ous " Abt Vogler " : 

God has a few of us whom he whispers in the ear ; 

The rest may reason and welcome : ' tis we musicians know. 

So does the poet know. He knows more of God 
than your theologian ; he knows more of nature 
than your scientist. Asa Gray could have in- 
structed Emerson in the morphology and physi- 
ology of the rhodora, but it was to the poet, not 
the botanist, that this wild " rival of the rose " 
revealed its life secret. A stanza of Wordsworth 
is worth an atlas of topographical surveys. So of 
the things of the spirit. Theology is the more or 
less successful effort to define and set in order the 
divine word whispered in the ear of the seers of the 
race. I have said so much about these seers in order 
to justify the advice that you press often beyond the 
mechanical system of the logician to catch the 
immediate and living word of the poet. It will 
serve you for knowledge, for training, for inward 
quickening, and for outward adjustment. You will 

LofC. 



100 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

learn in " Macbeth " somewhat of the conscience 
which is not in McCosh or Jonathan Edwards ; of 
the depth of sin and the terrific awakening of re- 
morse in " Siebald and Ottima," which you will not 
find in Julius Miiller; of the daring reach of human 
aspiration for the fruit of knowledge in " Faust " 
or " Paracelsus," which no ''doctrine of the fall " 
will so much as hint And " Saul " will teach your 
heart somewhat of the essence of the Incarnation 
for which you will search in vain all Dorner's vol- 
umes on "The Person of Christ." To be quite 
frank, I will trust Browning's instinct before Cal- 
vin's logic. 

If it be objected that the divine word on the 
poet's lip is too vaporous to have value as knowl- 
edge, it may be answered that God seems to have 
been content to leave it so. Not a philosophical, 
but an emotional and imaginative race was the 
selected channel of its communication. Accord- 
ingly, the Bible has no definitions. Truth there 
is not crystalline, but in solution. It gives us, not 
metaphysics, but men ; not logic, but life. And 
this was well, if we may judge from the history of 
our Western passion for definition. Not an incon- 
siderable part of the energy of Christendom has 
been expended in disputes about words which, when 
settled at all, have been settled by majority vote, 
punctuated now and again with the great black 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE IOI 

period of the charred objector. In spite of this 
warning of dissipation and perversion in the name 
of Christ, the tyranny of the logical faculty still 
terrorizes the Christian realm and drives off the 
outsider. The implements of its torture are not 
exactly the same as in the former time. For chains 
and flames it commonly employs to-day the vitriol 
of invective; but the choice is only a matter of 
taste, which happens to require now the refine- 
ment of cruelty. Stephen Allard says : " Nature 
had set two souls within me ; but the artist volun- 
tarily died, that his brother the scholar might live." 
I think that the theologian has sometimes mur- 
dered the man within him, to make the logician 
supreme. I tell you this is the reproach and scan- 
dal of Christianity. The intelligence of the world 
is growing too acute and wide, and the moral 
sense of the world is too much heightened and 
cleared by the teaching of Jesus, to submit to the 
usurpation and arrogance of an alien logic. If 
your message essentially involve subscription to 
the items of a particular theological formulary, the 
world, which is fast winning its emancipation from 
authority, will not so much as hear your formulary. 
If you insist, it will bid you go, and take your re- 
ligion along with your theology. And Christ will 
be crucified afresh by the hands of his friends. 
But I said that the poet's word was serviceable 



102 LABORATORY AND PULPIT 

for training as well as for knowledge. If there is 
one gift for which God looks when selecting his 
preacher, I think it must be the gift of imagination. 
Without it you may be a priest and officiate in the 
forms of public worship, or a pastor and put in 
play at the fireside the attracting power of a pure 
life, or a director of the activities of a church, or a 
theologian, or yet again a religious lecturer or 
essayist ; but an effective preacher with the appeal 
of God on your tongue, you cannot be. Now, 
imagination, like any other faculty, grows if it be 
fed ; and I know no food for this Pegasus of the 
mind like the poets — I do not mean the popinjays 
of rhyme, but the great masters of song who en- 
rich and glorify our literature. 

The preacher needs, moreover, repeated quicken- 
ing and renewal in the inward part of him. He 
must be saved from the deterioration of routine. 
His intellect needs the accumulating dross of its 
commonplace tasks wiped off the face of it ever 
and anon, that it may be bright. After expendi- 
ture he must open connections with rich sources 
of income. Otherwise, with the exhaustion of his 
reserve, he will lose his power to get it again, and 
that is the last disaster which he can suffer. The 
first symptom of it is the rise of the old sermon 
chest often in memory ; the second, reliance upon 
it ; and the third, change of pastorate after two 



THE UNKNOWN TONGUE 103 

years. I commend to you the cultivation of the 
poets as an antiseptic against this intellectual decay. 
I feel assured of that preacher's intellectual and 
spiritual vitality who is on intimate terms with 
Tennyson and Browning and Wordsworth and 
Shakespeare. 

And now I have done. After this glance at the 
religious life and opinions of our revolutionary 
period, I hope each one of you can say, as I say 
with all my heart : 

When I have passed a nobler life of sorrow ; 

Have seen rude masses grow to fulgent spheres ; 
Seen how To-day is father of To-morrow, 

And how the Ages justify the Years, 

I praise thee, God ! 



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